Reminder: Tales of the Unexpected

FCRC Spring Seminar,  Sunday 8th October

 

Liverpool Street Nursery operated in Hobart between June 1838 and 1842. It was located in a house opposite the colonial hospital.

Articles on the setting up of the nursery in Liverpool Street featured in the Colonial Times on 8 May 1838 (p.4):

The Factory Nursery.

We hinted last week, that the removal of the nursery from the Factory, to Dr. Scott's late residence in Liverpool-street, had been attended with a degree of mismanagement, highly reprehensible. That this mismanagement is committed, without the sanction of the authorities, we readily assert; but, as we have taken the Factory, and its abuses, under our especial care and surveillance, we consider it absolutely our duty to expose the disastrous evils, to which the poor children are now exposed, since their removal from the Factory.

What will our readers think, when we inform them, that the women, who have charge of the children, at this new nursery, are under no control whatever? They make "their exits and their entrances," just when and how they please,—enjoy such reputable society, as they think fit, eat, drink, and be merry, unchecked and unreproved. There are neither matron, nor constable to watch over and keep in order the nurses, appointed to take charge of the poor children; who are, in consequence, as may be expected, greatly and shamefully neglected.

We hear that the proceedings of these women are openly disgraceful,—drunkenness and promiscuous cohabitation, being continually practised ; and all from the miserable penuriousness of the Government, who will not afford either a matron to superintend, or a constable to protect the establishment! The plea is,—as we understand,—the deficiency of funds, for a purpose so essential; but, we beg leave, most earnestly, to impress upon the humane mind of His Excellency, the immediate necessity of a complete reformation. Commendation has been justly bestowed upon Sir John Franklin, for the promptitude with which he abolished the odious and execrable dark cells, and removed the nursery from its baneful locality. But this is not enough; there are other necessaries required, beyond the mere removal of the nursery. We have, already, had more than one instance of the bad—nay, fatal consequences of improper diet, and neglect in nursing. How, in the name of reason, can these essential points be attended to, when the nurses get drunk, and waste their time in bad and improper company ? This establishment, we believe, is more immediately under the control and management of the Inspector of Hospitals. If, however, that functionary has no authority to place it under proper charge and conduct, let him apply to the Government, when, sure we are, immediate amendment will be effected. Has not Mr. Spode some influence in this matter? If he has, we need not say, that, knowing the evil to exist (and we can assure him, we have used no exaggeration) he will use that influence for its abolition. We earnestly implore him to do so.

The moral condition of these poor children is bad and deplorable enough, without adding any physical suffering thereto. We consider them to be under the especial charge and protection of the Government, inasmuch as they are deprived of the care of their parents ; and, being so deprived, it is a solemn duty incumbent upon the Government to pay every attention to their health and comfort.

Since writing the above, we understand that His Excellency has made some enquiries on this subject, moved thereto by our observations of last week. Dr. Bedford, it seems, was applied to on the occasion, but we are authorized to state, that this gentlemen has nothing to do with the Establishment. Indeed, we may safely assert, that Dr. Bedford's humanity would never suffer so much mischief to exist, had he any control over the business.

 

and on 15 May 1838 (p.5):

Factory Nursery

We hasten to correct an error which we were inadvertently led, last week, in our account of the new Nursery, about to be established at the late residence of Dr. Scott, opposite the Colonial Hospital, in Liverpool-street. The children, it seems, are not yet brought from the Factory to their asylum—because Dr. Scott’s “late residence” is at present occupied, we understand, by some female patients from the Hobart Town Hospital opposite. We cannot but think, that there is great and most reprehensible neglect, in every thing connected with this proposed reformation. We learn, first of all, that, on the just and praisworthy representation of a most intelligent Jury, the Government ordered the removal of the children from the baneful locality, wherein they were habitated, in the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”. Assuming, therefore, that this measure was properly attended to, we, in the execution of our duty,—animadverted upon the careless and most improper manner, in which the new Nursery was mismanaged. What, however, is our surprise to learn; that the children have never been removed at all.
It was on Monday, the 26th, March, that the celebrated inspection of the Female Factory was made; and, in a day or two afterwards, an address was forwarded, to His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor—from the Jury recommending certain amendments in the, then, prevailing system. The abolition of the dark cells (Inquisition dungeons) was one of these,—and the removal of the Nursery, another: the first was promptly, and on the instant, adopted, ,the other is now: as it-was! .
We have, been favoured ; with a sort of demi-official account of this matter, from which (having made the necessary corrections, for it is strangely written),we give the following extract:—

 

"The removal of the Nursery from the Factory, to Dr. Scott’s house, has not taken place, but is intended, so soon as it can be fitted up for the purpose, after having been vacated by its present occupants, the Female Patients of Hobart Town Hospital opposite; who, were temporarily removed into it, inconsequence of some suspicious appearances in the character of disease, viz. Erysipelatous and Dysenteric affections, that seem to be spreading amongst them in the overcrowded wards in the old Hospital. One young woman died there, very unexpectedly, of puerperal fever. (Is this Erysipelatous or Dysenteric?) There is a place now fitting up in the old Hospital, and nearly ready for the accommodation of these women, where it will be impossible for the irregularities now complained of to be committed. At the same time, it is to be observed, that there is to be a Matron to the Establishment, MrsKelsh, whose principal duty, is to look, after these, the only women in it, as also her husband the Steward. It is under the eye of the porter or gatekeeper, directly opposite, who has positive orders to keep a sharp watch on it, to prevent the exit of the inmates and the entrance of strangers. The attention of the Police, on its being first was also particularly directed to it.”

 

It is needless to offer any remarks on so slovenly a statement as this. We must, however, ask one or two questions,—first, what business had any other, but the suffering infants at the Factory, to be domiciliated at Dr. Scott's late residence? What opportunity has the porter of the “old Hospital” of observing the “exits and entrances” of persons, some hundred and fifty yards distant?—The whole matter is, in our opinion, perfectly disgraceful. If the Government have ordered a place—a befitting and suitable place—for the reception of these poor, forlorn and neglected infants, why, in Heaven's name, is not this place at once, appointed, and appropriated? We, must observe, that, until some efficacious plan for the good management of these poor children be effected, we shall take every opportunity of bringing the matter before the Government, as well as the public: we are quite sincere in our intentions, as we shall; soon, we fear, have the means of showing.