• Welcome to Family History Forum 🔎

    Dive into a community where unraveling family history is a shared passion. Here, real people collaborate, offering advice, insights, and support in navigating the rich tapestry of genealogy. Engage in vibrant discussions, pose questions, or celebrate your latest findings on our active message boards.

    Whether you're piecing together ancestry or breaking through brick walls in your research, our forum is your essential resource 📚

    Join fellow family historians in this journey, where every story uncovered strengthens the bonds that connect us all 🔗

    Family History UK
  • Do you love Genealogy? Why not write for us? we're looking for volunteers to write articles for Family history. Please contact us for further information.

Ancestors with disabilities.

benny1982

Loyal Member
Staff member
Moderator
Posts
5,312
Likes
136
Location
Norwich
#1
Hi

I would imagine that may of you have ancestors in the censuses who were described as deaf or blind. My 3xgreat grandmother Elizabeth Mayhew is aged 66 in the 1881 census and "Deaf" is put next to her name on the disability column.

In the 1851 census in Sussex my ancestor John Walder is aged 83 and is a Retired Farmer and is blind according to the end column of the census sheet. John died in 1854. I wonder how they coped in those days?

John's wife Sarah died a year before he did and in 1851 a grandchild aged 25 was living with them so maybe she helped her elderly grandfather.

Ben
 

benny1982

Loyal Member
Staff member
Moderator
Posts
5,312
Likes
136
Location
Norwich
#3
Hi

I am now awaiting John Walder's death cert. The informant may have been his granddaughter. A website of the family has his gravestone.

Ben
 

duckweed

Loyal Member
Posts
3,087
Likes
6
Location
Sheffield
#4
I think it depends on the time period and also when they became disabled. Education and work for the blind started earlier than for those with other disabilities. Those born deaf could get some education if they lived in certain more enlightened towns and cities, though many of the profoundly deaf would be treated as idiots and condemned to a life in an institution. Many children with physical disabilities were treated appallingly. Even in WW2 children with disabilities were not considered for either an education or were evacuated with their brothers and sisters. Adults who became disabled later in life if death or blind seemed to have got better treatment as they were counted as the deserving poor. Though mental disabilities were more humanely treated in late Victorian it is still a disability even now that is met by hostillity and ignorance. I think the term imbecile covered a wide variety of conditions as classification was not an exact science. I have had blind ancestors who found work after becoming blind and others who were given a place in an almshouses. My grandfather who was deaf since getting scarlet fever in childhood simply worked in Jobs that did not require full hearing, though he was not profoundly deaf. He worked as a Gardener. I have a blind ancestor who was a printer and type setter. I suppose like today its down to luck that someone would give you a chance of employment despite your disability.
 

benny1982

Loyal Member
Staff member
Moderator
Posts
5,312
Likes
136
Location
Norwich
#5
Hi

I think John Walder had some money to fund his blindness as he was a retired farmer. I think he must have become blind in his 60s or 70s.

Ben
 

Similar threads

Top