Author Topic: Lunatic on 1911 census  (Read 18185 times)

Offline heilanlassie

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Lunatic on 1911 census
« on: Sunday 23 February 14 19:40 GMT (UK) »
My great-grandmother, Christina Mackenzie, is listed as the head of the house, 17 Pulteney Street, Ullapool, on the 1911 census.
She had been widowed in 1890 and was left with three children.
By 1911, two of the children were married and away from home, leaving her with only one son at home in 1911, and he was 29 years old.
On the census, Christina, aged 64, has a boarder living with her, Alexander Macrae, aged 59, single, speaking Gaelic and English - but the strange thing is that the census states that he was born in England, and is classed as a lunatic, and doesn't seem to have employment.
Why would my great-grandmother be taking in lunatic boarders? Surely she wouldn't have been that desperate for money........(and heaven knows there was enough lunacy in her family anyway, due to the inbreeding coming from Rhearabach / Scoraig  :P  :P  :P)
On the valuation roll of 1895, Christina is living in the same house, and is described as a widow and a pauper.
I can't find her on the 1905 valuation roll, but in 1915 and 1920, she is shown as the proprietrix of number 17 Pulteney Street.
I have found a death record, in 1918, for an Alexander Macrae, aged 66 years, who died in Pulteney Street, a single pauper. He must have been illegitimate because only his father, Philip Macrae is mentioned on the death certificate. The death was registered by D Ross, Inspector of Poor.
I did hope that Alexander might have had a stash of cash under the mattress which he had left to Christina enabling her to buy number 17  8)  8)  8)
How could I find out where this Alexander Macrae came from? Why did someone born in England speak Gaelic? Why was my great-grandmother taking in boarders, especially lunatic ones? Was a financial incentive given by the Poor Board?
A total, intriguing mystery.
Researching the names Mckenzie / Mackenzie from Ross and Cromarty especially Scoraig and Rherivach.

The names Fraser, MacGillivary and Grant from Daviot & Dunlichity.

The name of Fraser from Lanarkshire.

The name of Bell from Northumberland.

The name Chilla / Chylla / Chyla from Poland.

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Offline cati

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 23 February 14 19:49 GMT (UK) »
Intriguing....

I wonder whether the lodger was born in England of Scottish parents - this might explain the fact that he was a Gaelic speaker. If so, his parents might only have been in England for a very short time.  Have you searched for him on other censuses?

A "lunatic" was defined as someone 'sometimes of good and sound memory and understanding and sometimes not'.  So not, perhaps, as bad as it sounds. 

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Online loobylooayr

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 23 February 14 20:04 GMT (UK) »
Hi,
 Have you viewed the original or is the Census result from a transcription somewhere?The reason I ask is that on Familysearch for instance some people have a place of birth Sunderland which in fact is Sutherland and this means they show up as being born in England. :-\

Also I agree with cati.  Could be Alexander's parents were Scottish and Gaelic speakers. Or he'd lived in Scotland for years.
All I can add to the "lunatic" tag is - he was bilingual!

Looby :)

Offline heilanlassie

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 23 February 14 20:21 GMT (UK) »
No, the census is the original image, downloaded from Scotlands People.

The plot thickens though, as I have now found Alexander Macrae in the 1901 census.

This time he is living in Market Street, Ullapool and is classed as an imbecile, born in England, speaking Gaelic and English. He is 48 years old and is a cousin to the head of the household, who is:

Alexina Mackenzie, aged 76, single, born in Ullapool, a speaker of Gaelic and English.

Also in the house is a Thomas Mackenzie, aged 60, single, general labourer, born in Lochbroom, a Gaelic speaker.
Researching the names Mckenzie / Mackenzie from Ross and Cromarty especially Scoraig and Rherivach.

The names Fraser, MacGillivary and Grant from Daviot & Dunlichity.

The name of Fraser from Lanarkshire.

The name of Bell from Northumberland.

The name Chilla / Chylla / Chyla from Poland.

Offline KGarrad

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #4 on: Sunday 23 February 14 20:47 GMT (UK) »
That's the 3rd time this has come up this week! ;D

As I said in other topics:

Some terms do have a formal definition in the UK although they are no longer used :
Term Idiot  IQ 0 to 25  Modern term Severe learning disability
Imbecile  25 to 50  Moderate learning disability
Feeble minded 50 to 70  Mild learning disability
Those with an IQ of less than 50 usually need care throughout life and are unlikely to educable in the formal sense


I think "lunatic" was just an all-encompassing term?
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Offline aghadowey

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #5 on: Sunday 23 February 14 21:02 GMT (UK) »
I have found a death record, in 1918, for an Alexander Macrae, aged 66 years, who died in Pulteney Street, a single pauper. He must have been illegitimate because only his father, Philip Macrae is mentioned on the death certificate. The death was registered by D Ross, Inspector of Poor.

That doesn't make much sense- if father is listed on death certificate then why do you think he was illegitimate. The most likely reason for no mother listed is that the informant didn't have that information.
Away sorting out DNA matches... I may be gone for some time many years!

Offline Millmoor

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #6 on: Sunday 23 February 14 21:13 GMT (UK) »
Alexander is also on the 1871 census at the same address as 1901 with place of birth Plymouth. Head of household is Lexy Mackenzie 40 domestic servant, Mary McRae mother 60 pauper and Roy McDonald 60 a lodger and pauper. In this census he is recorded as nephew rather than cousin.

Could the place of birth suggest a naval connection re father?

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Online loobylooayr

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #7 on: Sunday 23 February 14 21:16 GMT (UK) »
I have found a death record, in 1918, for an Alexander Macrae, aged 66 years, who died in Pulteney Street, a single pauper. He must have been illegitimate because only his father, Philip Macrae is mentioned on the death certificate. The death was registered by D Ross, Inspector of Poor.

That doesn't make much sense- if father is listed on death certificate then why do you think he was illegitimate. The most likely reason for no mother listed is that the informant didn't have that information.

I would tend to agree with that. It could indicate that the informant on the death certificate knew Alexander's father's name but did not know/could not remember his mother's. 
Alexander is staying with a cousin called MacKenzie in 1901. I  realise MacKenzie is a common name especially in that area but could it be he was also related to Christina your great grandmother?

Looby :)

Offline cati

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Re: Lunatic on 1911 census
« Reply #8 on: Sunday 23 February 14 22:01 GMT (UK) »
I think "lunatic" was just an all-encompassing term?

The National Archive guide "Mental Health" suggests that a "lunatic" was (as I said in an earlier post) a person who was 'sometimes of good and sound memory and understanding and sometimes not';  the term "idiot" was used to describe 'natural fools from birth'. (their words, not mine).

Mental health issues were not as well understood as they are today: for example. epilepsy was regarded as a form of insanity.
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