Author Topic: Devon House of Mercy  (Read 22096 times)

Offline Aks

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Devon House of Mercy
« on: Friday 13 June 08 12:10 BST (UK) »
Does anyone know if any records exist from the Devon House of Mercy at Bovey Tracey? My great-grandmother (Martha Susannah Froude, born in 1852) was there in 1871 as an inmate according to the census and I'm trying to find out more about how she ended up there, but I'm not getting anywhere. If she went there because she had an illegitimate child, would there be some particular record of this?

Another curious fact is that she is listed on the 1871 census as having been born in Bristol, Somersetshire (not Gloucestershire), whereas she came from Stoke Gabriel in Devon. Since her parents died when she was very young, I assumed she might have been sent off to live with a member of the family in Bristol, but I can't find her at all on the 1861 census (after her parents died). She seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth.

I'm just posting this in the hope that someone with more experience than myself (probably just about everyone) might have some bright ideas.
Sillitoe, Froude, Partington, Rochford

Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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Offline slightlyfoxed

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 15 June 08 11:42 BST (UK) »
In GENUKI under Bovey Tracey I found this mention in Family History publication .

Green, Christina. Society's Fallen Sisters: The Devon House of Mercy, Family Tree Magazine, vol. 23, no. 7, (2007) pp.39-41. [Founded "for the reception and reformation of females who have sinned against the Divine law of chastity".


Try the Devon Family History Society.
http://www.devonfhs.org.uk/treehouse.htm

 I Googled Fallen Sisters Bovey Tracey and found some bits and pieces which you can find fairly easily . Using Google.
Then I thought of Old Maps and I found the building on an old map! It is situated on the hill behind the Church! attached.  Ive been through Bovey on the bus many times and  behind the church there are trees and on a modern map its still there hidden in the trees, now called Devon House.
 If you go to Francis Frith put into search Bovey Tracey Devon ,there is a photo of it.Big place.

Foxy
Pomeroy in London & Liverpool , Pomery near Launceston Cornwall, Shearer of Thurso, Moore in Colchester and Hornblow in Braintree Essex, Machin in Hackney & Stafford & Cook in Herts, Campbell, Sutherland, Mackay, Brotchie, Gunn in Thurso Caithness. Cadle in South Africa.

researching the Pomeroy Family of Collaton in Newton Ferrers and St Columb in Cornwall

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Offline Aks

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 15 June 08 14:29 BST (UK) »
Thank you very much for this information, Foxy, especially the super map! Also, the photo : I didn't know what Francis Frith was, but managed to figure it out! I will try to get hold of this magazine article.

Just in case someone else has as interest in this area, it seems that there are some records available in the national archives according to their website, which includes the annual reports for 1866, 1871, perhaps 1881, and 1925-38, and the register of admission of inmates from 1913-1939, which is unfortunately after the period that interests me personally.

Alan
Sillitoe, Froude, Partington, Rochford

Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline slightlyfoxed

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #3 on: Monday 16 June 08 08:39 BST (UK) »
As I live in the area I'll see if I can find a book in the local library about BT. See if this place comes up in it.
Id guess that Martha was unfortunate enough to have a child out of wedlock and got caught up in the maws of what could well have been a ferocious institution..pious do-gooders preaching , Sounds utterly horrible. Well meaning in intention I suppose but uggh!
Id guess the child might well be in the parish registers of Bovey Tracey, if it survived.

 Foxy
Pomeroy in London & Liverpool , Pomery near Launceston Cornwall, Shearer of Thurso, Moore in Colchester and Hornblow in Braintree Essex, Machin in Hackney & Stafford & Cook in Herts, Campbell, Sutherland, Mackay, Brotchie, Gunn in Thurso Caithness. Cadle in South Africa.

researching the Pomeroy Family of Collaton in Newton Ferrers and St Columb in Cornwall

Offline Aks

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #4 on: Monday 16 June 08 19:46 BST (UK) »
Thank you very much, Foxy, for your interest in this issue. The question I'm asking myself is did girls in this situation go to this kind of institution to give birth or was it somewhere they went after afterwards?

Indeed, I'll have to get hold of this article because, as you, I really wonder what they endured in there. Perhaps this place wasn't so bad : it seems as though the clew sisterhood was started with a good motivation. However, having recently read about the Magdalene laundries, I have some doubts.
Sillitoe, Froude, Partington, Rochford

Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline slightlyfoxed

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #5 on: Monday 16 June 08 22:01 BST (UK) »
I dont know how these things worked back then...but judging by the tales I heard about the brutality exercised on girls in unmarried mothers homes in the 1960's I would guess it was pretty dire.
I agree about the Magdalen  laundries of Ireland. A real horror story  and I wondered if something like it was going on.  I wonder if it depended if the foundation was Roman Catholic or C of E??  would that make a difference ?

 I will get to the Library tomorrow and see what I can find.
 I love a good detective story!
regards
Foxy!
Pomeroy in London & Liverpool , Pomery near Launceston Cornwall, Shearer of Thurso, Moore in Colchester and Hornblow in Braintree Essex, Machin in Hackney & Stafford & Cook in Herts, Campbell, Sutherland, Mackay, Brotchie, Gunn in Thurso Caithness. Cadle in South Africa.

researching the Pomeroy Family of Collaton in Newton Ferrers and St Columb in Cornwall

Offline slightlyfoxed

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #6 on: Tuesday 17 June 08 11:06 BST (UK) »
I found some images in a booklet about Bovey Tracey  . Looks like the place was run on similar lines to those in Ireland. Sisters of Mercy were originally from Cork in Ireland so Irish Catholic and terrifying I imagine
Pomeroy in London & Liverpool , Pomery near Launceston Cornwall, Shearer of Thurso, Moore in Colchester and Hornblow in Braintree Essex, Machin in Hackney & Stafford & Cook in Herts, Campbell, Sutherland, Mackay, Brotchie, Gunn in Thurso Caithness. Cadle in South Africa.

researching the Pomeroy Family of Collaton in Newton Ferrers and St Columb in Cornwall

Offline Aks

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #7 on: Tuesday 17 June 08 11:45 BST (UK) »
Thank you for this invaluable information, Foxy. It looks worse than I had imagined. Just looking at the laundry conjures up pictures from a documentary I saw on the Magdalene laundries. In fact, didn't they make a film about it. Seems like some women got sent there for almost no reason and ended up being caged up in there for decades, even recently, as I think you mentioned. At least, this did not happen to my great-grandmother. I only know she was there in 1871, at about 18 years old, but in 1880 she got married in Liverpool. Perhaps she couldn't get far enough away from the place!

I am really indebted to you. Thank you very much.

I will post some more information of general interest later if and when I get some. 

Alan
Sillitoe, Froude, Partington, Rochford

Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline slightlyfoxed

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Re: Devon House of Mercy
« Reply #8 on: Wednesday 18 June 08 12:09 BST (UK) »
Maybe they could leave at 21, when they came of age.
Oddly there were a quite a few connections between Devon and Liverpool in that period, through the various ports obviously and Teignmouth where I am was one of the most active. Its only a few miles away from Bovey, about 12 or so, relatively few by todays standards, quite a long way to walk but not impossible, two days maybe.

What happened to her when she got the Liverpool? A whole chunk of my family were from there in the 1880's I have a great Grandfather who was a Dr in Liverpool and another who was head of the Albert Docks Offices.
Pleased to have shed some light on your searches.
Good luck
Annie
Pomeroy in London & Liverpool , Pomery near Launceston Cornwall, Shearer of Thurso, Moore in Colchester and Hornblow in Braintree Essex, Machin in Hackney & Stafford & Cook in Herts, Campbell, Sutherland, Mackay, Brotchie, Gunn in Thurso Caithness. Cadle in South Africa.

researching the Pomeroy Family of Collaton in Newton Ferrers and St Columb in Cornwall