My 2nd great aunt, Margaret Keenan was just 18 years old when she died on 18 September 1886. She was the 7th child of Irish immigrants, Patrick Keenan and Agnes Haughey and the closest in age to my great grandmother, Ellen Keenan. Ellen was my mother’s paternal grandmother. She was also the sister of Mary Keenan about whom I posted recently.
Margaret was born in the Parish of Cambusnethan on 16 March 1868. She appears on both the 1871 and 1881 census records living with her family in Newmains. The next record I found for her was her death record which shows she died within her family home at 14 Furnace Row, Newmains. Her mother, Agnes was present at the time of death and it was she who registered the death using an X as her mark in lieu of a signature.
It is the word “pauper” on the record written where her occupation should be recorded that caught my eye. Being recorded as a pauper meant that she had to have applied for poor relief at some point.
The poor relief applications for Cambusnethan Parish are held at the Lanarkshire Heritage Centre in Motherwell. On request, the very helpful staff will bring you the original registers which often contain information not available elsewhere.
In the case of Margaret, I discovered that she applied for poor relief at 230pm on 7 April 1885. I would imagine that for a 17 year old girl bring interviewed by the poor house inspector would have been a very daunting prospect.
On the register Margaret is recorded as single with no dependants. Her occupation is given as bleachfield worker and her religion as Roman Catholic.
Per the normal procedure, a home visit was carried out by the inspector who visited 14 Furnace Row at 1115am on 8 April.
I don’t know if having a poorhouse inspector visiting your home would have been a cause for shame. Had the family tried to provide for Margaret until they could no longer manage?
The register also lists previous addresses. Margaret had been at Furnace Row for two years. Prior to that, in her early teens, she had lived away from home at a bleachfield works in Paisley. The fact that she had been home for two years away from the bleachfields would suggest that she had been dependant on her parents for some time.
The inspector assessed Margaret as wholly disabled due to strumous disease. I had no idea what that might be but an online search showed it to be scrofula; a disease with glandular swelling, probably a form of tuberculosis. You can check online. It’s a nasty disease.
The decision from the inspector was to provide Margaret with 2/6. Payments of 1/6 were to continue but at some point she was admitted to Motherwell Poorhouse. I’m relieved at least that she did not die there but was at home with her family.