Before I continue with my brief biography of William Hopkins, my 2x great grandfather, this is a short note about Charles, his father. I mentioned briefly that Charles died suddenly aged 30 (in his burial record it says aged 28) and that the coroner recorded it as a ‘Visitation of God’ which is the wording they used when they didn’t actually know what caused such sudden demise. But when I wrote the post I didn’t know any other details of his death, apart from the fact that he had died in Newcastle under Lyme, a few miles from his home in Shelton, Stoke on Trent.
Until the British Newspaper Archive digitized the relevant issue of the local newspaper for 1840.
SUDDEN DEATH AT NEWCASTLE – on Thursday morning, as Charles Hopkins, an out-door pauper of the Spittals Workhouse, was assisting to draw a hand-cart, containing bread, from that place to Stoke, when passing along the Back Marsh, on their way through Newcastle to the latter place, he said – “Let’s rest a bit, for the cart goes heavy; the wheels want greasing;” which words he had scarcely uttered when he immediately fell down senseless. A medical gentleman was promptly on the spot, when it was found that life was quite extinct. The deceased, up to the time of his using the above words, had not complained of indisposition. He was about thirty-five years of age, and resided at Tinker’s Clough, in the township of Shelton, and was by trade a slip-maker. He has left a wife and four children to lament his untimely death. An inquest was held on the body on the same day, before F. Stanier, Esq., coroner, and a verdict returned “died by the visitation of God.” (Staffordshire Advertiser, Saturday October 10th, 1840.)
So that answered a few of my questions, and posed a few more. The Spittals Workhouse was the workhouse for Stoke on Trent but was very close to the border with Newcastle under Lyme (when I was a teenager I used to walk past there – now a hospital – on my way to the shops in Newcastle from our home in Penkhull). So that explains why he died in Newcastle. An outdoor pauper apparently was one who received support but didn’t live in the workhouse. I knew he was a slipmaker in the pottery industry and that it was a pretty unhealthy job but I suppose he must have been out of work at the time since he needed relief from the workhouse. Apparently around 1840 was a period of high unemployment in the Potteries and lots of people travelled to America then in the hope of building a better life for themselves, and it was around then that the Chartist movement was so strong.
So William’s poor mother Mary was left to bring up 3 (or four, if the newspaper was correct and there was another child we haven’t found yet) on her own.