Arthur Alfred (2) Woodhurst

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Brief biography

Arthur Alfred (2) Woodhurst was born in 1855 to parents Alfred (1) Woodhurst and his first wife Matilda Bathurst. The birth certificate [Birth Index: St. Lukes 1b 578, 1855 (March)] states that he was born at the City of London Lying-in Hospital in City Road, St. Luke's near Finsbury in London on March 10th 1855. The informant was his mother, and his father's occupation was given as dyer. Their home address is not mentioned.

Several such lying-in hospitals were built in London during the mid-18th century. They were described at the time as being intended mainly for the "wives of poor industrious tradesmen or distressed housekeepers". The St. Luke's hospital, deemed to be for married women only, was founded in 1750 initially in Aldersgate Street but was relocated in City Road in 1773. It was renamed the City of London Maternity Hospital in 1918 and was later partly destroyed by war-time bombing in 1940-41, after which it was relocated yet again to Hanley Road in Islington before finally closing in 1983 [LMA: Information Leaflet No. 15, April 2000].

Arthur Alfred (2) would have been just a few days short of his seventh birthday when, in March 1862, his mother left his father to marry the latter's brother Richard William (1) Woodhurst (RWW). He and his two surviving sisters appear to have continued living with their father and the latter's new partner Mary Ann Edridge.

It appears that by 1869, however, he was no longer living with any of his family. On December 21st of that year he was admitted to the Bethnal Green Union Workhouse in Waterloo Road, Victoria Park, as recorded in the Creed Register maintained by Bethnal Green's Board of Guardians [LMA: Piece BeB.G./290/1-3: Film X20/6] held in the London Metropolitan Archives. He had been living in Bethnal Green Road. Further entries in the Creed Register - used to record the religious denominations of workhouse inmates - show that he was discharged to a local Fever Hospital but then readmitted to the workhouse on February 2nd 1870. He was discharged again but readmitted on October 5th. His address was then cited as 315, Bethnal Green Road.

In April 1870 he was a witness for the prosecution in the trial of his father at the Old Bailey.

The 1871 Census finds him at the workhouse and named simply as 'Arthur Woodhouse'. He is described as an unmarried inmate aged 17 whose occupation was hatter. The record gives his birthplace as Bethnal Green. This is certainly where he was raised as a child, but he was presumably unaware that he had been born at the hospital in St. Luke's. His age was actually 16 when the Census was taken.

Arthur Alfred (2) was discharged yet again and readmitted on August 19th 1871. His address now was given as Hosford's Coffee House. The 1871 Census shows that this coffee house was located at the above-mentioned address 315, Bethnal Green Road. It was run by a man named John Hosford and had several lodgers living there. After a further discharge, Arthur Alfred (2) was readmitted on November 15th, and was now recorded as having been homeless. After a further discharge he was readmitted, for the last time, on April 6th 1872. His address was now given as 44, Church Street. This address was formerly 44, Bethnal Green Road and - according to the 1871 Census - was a coffee shop run by a man named George Nichols. The Creed Register records that Arthur Alfred (2) died in the workhouse on September 28th 1872.

His death certificate [Death Index: Bethnal Green 1c 137, 1872 (Dec)] names him as Arthur Woodhurst, a hat maker, and confirms this date of death. The cause was certified as "chronic abscesses". His age was cited as 18 but was actually 17. The informant was Edward J. Adams, in attendance, being the Medical Officer of Bethnal Green Workhouse. The certificate makes no mention of any of Arthur Alfred (2)'s relatives.

Nothing more is currently known of him. He appears to have led a short and wretched life, terminated by an even more wretched death in isolation from all his family.