I found a couple more interesting snippets of information while looking through records on Ancestry today...while going through the census for 1881 of a Workhouse just outside London among the inmates were...a Tripe Dresser...a Dealer in Horse Flesh...a Watercress Seller and a child of six who was described as A child born in India with a soldier for a father...there was also an old lady who was The widow of a Gentleman at Arms...

Many inmates of the Workhouses were simply described as 'vagrants'...I suppose they moved from place to place living as best they could, but I'm always puzzled by the sheer numbers of people who simply seem to have fallen on hard times...easier enough to understand why a farm worker would end his or her days in a Workhouse...once you were past working then you'd have lost your home because the workers on farms almost always lived in a cottage 'tied' to the job...but why-ever did the elderly widow of a Gentleman at Arms end her days in living with vagrants and paupers.

This was another Workhouse where it was decided to take some of the inmates out for the day to the seaside...a big dinner was arranged at the town hall before they set off on a specially charted train...but someone, perhaps thinking it would be a treat, arranged for flagons of beer to accompany the slap-up meal. By the time they were ready to board the train most of the inmates were drunk...they still went to the coast but many of them fell asleep on the train and stayed there while those who'd been sensible spent the afternoon strolling on the promenade taking in the sea air.

It was also interesting to read that in this particular Workhouse they were given generous tobacco allowances each week for both the men and the women...you'll remember this was at a time when everyone smoked clay pipes.

And I actually found my very first convict ancestor...he was sent to Van Diemen's land in 1840 for the theft of two loaves of bread...what was totally mad of course was that he presumably stole the bread for his numerous children that he then had to leave to fend for themselves when he was transported. His life seems to have ended fairly well...he married again in Tasmania, received his letter of Freedom and lived until he was eighty-two. Two of his sons whom he'd had to leave in England followed him out when they were grown men...oddly enough he out-lived both of them.

An alarming fact is the number of young men in our extended families who died in the First World War...when I first began this journey back in time I'd found one young man who'd died in Mesopotamia...now the total has reached over thirty. Remember I'm extending the search outwards to varying branches of the same tree, but I do feel it is an awful lot of lads who died for a reason they probably only half understood. And none came home for burial either...they are scattered in the War Graves closest to where they met their deaths.

While I was researching about the First World war...a subject about which I still know very little...I came across an interesting perspective on the physical condition of the boys who had worked the land before signing up. It'd been thought or presumed by the Medical Officers that such lads would be hale and hearty but to the MO's horror they found most were actually malnourished to the point of suffering from malnutrition...working the land didn't mean you'd been living on the fat of the land and farm labourers in particular suffered from the diseases and conditions normally associated with a lack of decent food...skin eruptions, scanty hair, bowed chests and poor muscle tone...

It didn't appear to have prevented the MO's from passing them fit to serve though...