Moreover, my ancestors' souls are sustained by the atmosphere of the house, since I answer for them the questions that their lives once left behind. I carve out rough answers as best I can. I have even drawn them on the walls. It is as if a silent, greater family, stretching down the centuries, were peopling the house.

Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

No Rest For Elizabeth - blended family woes

Elizabeth's husband, John Lewis Horne snr, was not one to keep a low profile when in prison. 

From the Otago Witness, 4th Aug 1883 – an inquiry into the Dunedin Gaol – various matters including detention after a prisoners due time. John Lewis Horne forfeited more marks (earned for transgressions of the rules) than a Justice had the power to take away. 100 were for bad language – some 300 other marks not explained, but the result was that apparently he spent three months more in prison than his sentence required. He was out in September of 1879, but the family was struggling. Elizabeth's son William Saunders Ralph, now about 11, was picked up by the Police and remanded in custody as a neglected child in May of 1880. It was reported initially that he had run away from the Burnham Industrial School, but actually he was legitimately on licence, and meant to be under the control of his stepfather John Horne. It does sound as if he was keen to get away from this institution, where he had been placed as a child of 3 in 1871.

 A quick search of newspapers over the years finds numerous boys and girls on the run from this institution, with 8 boys absconding together in 1884. 

Comments on the Industrial School system found it wanting, particularly as the Burnham School accommodated children in need of (in today's language) 'care and protection' as well as juvenile offenders and children with an intellectual disability.  In 1906 there was an extensive inquiry, with reports of inhumane treatment and suggestions of the intimidation of witnesses. (Marlborough Express, Wednesday September 5th 1906).

Some of the recommendations were staggering:

...…the building at Timaru formerly used as a gaol had been thoroughly inspected by witness and they thought that it could be adapted for the treatment of incorrigibles without any great expenditure. By erecting a high wall round the place they would be able to allow the boys a good deal of liberty inside the grounds. The incorrigibles and defectives could be treated in one institution in separate departments. The name "Burnham" carried a distinct taint and it should be changed. Witness was in favour of "sterilising" incorrigibles for “the sake of future generations”. (Otago Witness, Issue 2744, 17 October 1906, Page 39).
The Medical Officer Stated:
The punishment of the smaller boys was not in his opinion too severe, but that for the older boys was insufficient. They should be secured to a table or triangle when undergoing corporal punishment which should be swift and not prolonged. New Zealand Herald, 15 Sept 1906, page 5.
At least 'swift and not prolonged'....
John Horne disclaims all responsibility and the Judge agrees....back to an institution for William Saunders Ralph.  The smart retort in this newspaper account above (May 1880) shows John Horne as a man with a quick wit, but at the expense of William. No mention of Elizabeth in all this. In November 1882 Elizabeth was in arrears by £9.6s to the Burnham School for fees. She paid £2 and was allowed time to pay the rest.

Meanwhile Elizabeth's other children were also not faring well, particularly two of the girls....


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