At the Coroner’s inquest into her death, cruel sister Charlotte said that Floy had been an imbecile all her life. “I liked to keep her for company. She was no good to me, but she was not quite helpless.”
If you search for her name on Google, you will find our Floy in a Rootspoint offering.
Floy was once a fairly popular unisex name, though 18 times more girls were given it than boys. One of its meanings is “flourishing” – sadly inappropriate for an imbecile. But how were the parents to know?
Records show that they, and their horrid daughter Charlotte, should perhaps have known better than to have ended up diminishing and degrading Floy.
In 1883 the Middleton School Admissions book records her name, and in the 1891 census, aged 13, she is a “scholar”. In this and the previous census, nothing is noted in the Infirmity column. But in 1901 this appears –
This was a new label to attach to unfortunate people, arguably less harsh than “imbecile”, but it caused the government some problems when compiling statistics. Had the “insane” population risen between 1891 and 1901? You can get a handle on the dilemmas of statisticians by reading the appropriate section of the 1901 Census Report.
In 1901 Floy was 23 and single, and her parents both 63. In the Chapel Lane house with them was a “nurse child”. One wonders how capable either woman was to care for this infant. “Nancy Cresey” was 11-months-old and born in Loughborough Junction, London. How did she fetch up in Yorkshire? Her birth registration indicates that she was legitimate; her mother’s maiden surname FOSTER.
The next census, 1911, finds Floy with her mother in Middleton on the Wolds. Her father has been dead for five years and mother Jane Elizabeth, now in her seventies, has an occupation – “midwife”. Does this caring profession explain the nurse-child? Does it make a mockery of Jane Elizabeth, in her own hand, describing her youngest child’s infirmity thus:
Jane died in 1913 and Floy was shipped down to South Norwood, which just happens to be about six miles from Loughborough Junction. Her last few years may have been different if her sister Mary, closer to her in age, had still been alive. She had married James Frederick WING in 1889, given birth to four children but died aged 28 when her youngest was a month or two old. This child, Ellen Elizabeth, was living with her uncle George Toyn COLLEY and aunt Charlotte as an adopted daughter in 1911. It was she who assured the Coroner that Floy had been well-cared for. (So why did the doctors at Croydon infirmary describe her as verminous and not so clean as she might have been”?)
Floy’s eldest sister, Rachel Esther, married a carpenter and wheelwright Thomas Robinson FISHER. They had just three children together and appear to have strayed no more than three miles from Driffield until their deaths in the 1930s. Why didn’t they take Floy in?
I wonder what Floy looked like. Was she as beautiful as Charlotte? Did she have more about her than her nearest and dearest gave her credit for? I hope she experienced some happiness in her life.
I merged Charlotte’s IDs today so click this link if you want to see the family on the Shared Tree.