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Victorian Hospitals

We realised that most of the people in our family tree for whom we have death certificates died at home.

It always captures our attention when they died in hospital, as all sorts of questions arise

    • Why were they admitted
    • How did they travel there
    •  How long were they admitted for? and most interestingly
    • Why did some people enter large city hospitals when they lived in small rural areas?

Before the Poor Law of 1834, any of our ancestors who were taken ill, had to rely upon the parish to take care of them.

In the C18th,  voluntary hospitals could be found in major towns. People could subscribe to them and buy treatment but it was out of the reach of most poor people and in particular out of reach of poor rural people.

The workhouse would have had  a ‘ward’ for treating sick inmates and later the Poor Law Unions were obliged to provide a separate infirmary to provide care for the sick.

A separate post on asylums explains how they were used.

As the C19th progressed so more hospitals came into existence with separate wards or isolation hospitals for those suffering from diseases such as tuberculosis or venereal diseases. The first hospitals for children opened, such as Great Ormond Street and lying in hospitals for women.

The work of Florence Nightingale on hospital management, set in place the standard for hospital hygiene and training that would provide the blueprint for British hospitals for several generations and put in place the first nurse training schools

There are a number of excellent websites through which you can explore these institutions and the Historical Hospitals Admissions Records Project, for searching the records of, at present, three children’s hospitals, Great Ormond Street, Alexandra Hospital and Evelina Hospital, is a brilliant resource. You can search by name or if you are interested in medical conditions etc there are a plethora of options.

Register for free on Intriguing Family History to gain access to a number of free resources that will help you to add historical context as you explore your family history

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