In 1855 rumours of murder and a cover up were circulating in the small north Somerset village of Walton-in-Gordano. An epileptic destitute country girl, Hannah Wiltshire, had died in the Bedminster Union Workhouse at Flax Bourton. The Board of Guardians were suspected of concealing the true magnitude of neglect at the workhouse, leading to accusations of medical negligence. Wiltshire’s death caused public outrage after letters were written to the local newspapers.
This talk 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. The talk will include newly discovered letters of complaint written to the Poor Law Board by Sir Arthur Elton of Clevedon.