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#35 The Life and Death of Hannah Wiltshire: A Case Study of Bedminster Union Workhouse and Victorian Social Attitudes on Epilepsy

by Rosemary L Caldicott

The death of epileptic Hannah Wiltshire in 1855 illustrates the treatment imposed upon the vulnerable poor living in rural England during the mid-nineteenth century and how a campaign for transparency, accountability and social justice was fought for by the local community.
SKU: 35 brhg

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During the year of 1855 rumours of murder and cover up were circulating in the small north Somerset village of Walton-in-Gordano. An epileptic destitute country girl had died in the local historic institution known as Bedminster Union Workhouse. Her death caused local and public outrage after letters were written to the local newspapers. The Board of Guardians of Bedminster Workhouse were suspected of concealing the true magnitude of neglect at the workhouse leading to accusations of medical negligence. Victorian social attitudes on Epilepsy are investigated within the context of how the draconian workhouse system typically caused greater hardship to people who suffered with epilepsy and other mental health issues. This pamphlet illustrates the treatment imposed upon the vulnerable poor living in rural England during the mid-nineteenth century and how a campaign for transparency, accountability and social justice was fought for by the local community.

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