I did promise you ….

29 April 2015

Yesterday, I did say that there were plenty more to come…. transcription entertainment is rife….! As family historians will know, there are some terms which are used in the parlance of yesteryear which may not be used so commonly nowadays. The term ‘mental’ is one. In the censuses (1841-1911) of England and Wales, the word mental appears many times over, frequently in relation to institutions and their patients. Sometimes – as yesterday – ‘mental’ is a word which does not appear on the actual census schedule and is merely an unfortunate transcription error. Like John Wm Walker in Sunderland (1911) who was a ‘Moner Mental Mason’, otherwise known as a ‘monumental mason’:


Nita Davies, whose birthplace was given as ‘New Zealand (resident)’, was a ‘mental and magnetic healer‘…. what the devil is one of those!? Maybe it makes sense to people born in New Zealand? [Help!!]


Mabel Widdas was actually a ‘nurse mental’, aged 22 in Beverley, Yorkshire, but was transcribed as a ‘mule mental‘…. honestly! Francis Meigh’s name is unusual in itself but his occupation – ‘Brittania Mental Mounter’ – is perhaps slightly erroneous don’t you think (of Hanley, Staffordshire)?


And to cap it all (I really thought his name was a joke for a start off), I B Dobosh … or so it’s transcribed…. but even better than that, he is a ‘mental practitioner‘:


The number of references to the word ‘mental’ in 1911 is quite extraordinary – 3,321 on Ancestry at the time of writing! And many hundreds of those are either mental nurses or mental patients of some ilk. Unfortunately, patients at the time (like prisoners) were only recorded with their initials so it is challenging to find an ancestor who happened to find themselves in an asylum. I feel an article coming on ….

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