View Full Version : Handwriting help, please

Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 22:15
I've just received the files for two of my relatives who died in lunatic asylums.

I can decipher most of them, but there are one or two parts I'm having trouble with.

This is the first one, relating to Thomas Cassidy:


Everything in the file was written in 1908. The two parts I'm doubtful about are these:

- Where it says "Has he any insane relations?", I'm not sure about the name of the daughter. It appears to be Margt Mary Cassidy ad. 4/8/65, but although he had a daughter of that name, she was born in 1882 and died in 1922, so she couldn't have been admitted to hospital in 1865. Thomas and her mother were married in 1879, and Thomas said he was a bachelor on the marriage cert. He was about 40 when they married, so there could have been a previous marriage, I suppose, but it seems unlikely that he'd have two daughters with exactly the same name.

- I can't read the name of the person given under "Name and address of nearest relations or friends". He had a niece who was living in Clyde Street when she died in 1933; I don't know if she was there in 1908, but her name looks nothing like the one written here.

Any suggestions?

07-12-07, 22:23
The name maybe Mrs. Jarvis

Is the year (19)05 as 4/8/05

07-12-07, 22:28
I think the year could be 85!

Olde Crone Holden
07-12-07, 22:34
The surname begins with L - compare "Letters from home"


Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 22:39
Yes, I thought it was an L - maybe Lanco, Larico, something like that. But his daughter's name at the time was Sarah McHugh...

Her previous names were Sarah Fallon and Sarah Kelly, but it looks nothing like any of them.

07-12-07, 22:52
I was just going to go onto Historical Directories to see if I could find a street listing for Clyde Street, Croydon Park to see the surnames of the people there, but Google tells me it is in Sydney!

Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 22:54
I've found the date written again on another page. If anything it's even harder to read, but the last-but-one number does look a lot more like a 6 than an 0, which throws this part of my tree into disarray.


The part I've circled in red probably says "Daughter adm. MHCP 4/8/6?"

The hospital was Callan Park Asylum, which seems to be abbreviated elsewhere to MH CP, presumably standing for Callan Park Mental Hospital.

Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 22:56
Google tells me it is in Sydney!

Sorry, I forgot to mention they were in Australia :-)

Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 23:01
Here's another part of the file that I'm having trouble with:


This is what I have so far:

1) Ellen Cassidy (his wife) says that he has lost ...? (maybe "lost all care of his house, fowls, etc."??)

2) that he talks away to people and keeps asking her look? and find out?

There's nothing below the last line except the date and signature. I'm wondering if part of the right-hand side of the page has been torn off. I just have a photocopy on pdf.

07-12-07, 23:13
I thought it was "lost all care of his house, fowls etc." too.
And the second one I think is "That he talks away to people and keeps asking her to look and find but" (I think the "to" between "her " and "look" was written below with an insert mark)

07-12-07, 23:15
Oh, sorry, just realised you said the bit below that last line was date and signature. In that case, the word "to" isn't there!

Olde Crone Holden
07-12-07, 23:16
"and replies(?) asking her Look and Find out"

Agree, I think a bit missing from the RH of the page.


Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 23:19
That he talks away to people and keeps asking her to look and find but

Yes, could be.

(I think the "to" between "her " and "look" was written below with an insert mark)

No, sorry, I didn't copy the extract very well. That loop's just part of the date on the line below.

Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 23:21
This file's so frustrating - in two places, the relatives are asked what they think brought on the attack of insanity, and they say "letters from home" (Thomas had emigrated to Australia from Ireland decades earlier). I read through the file with bated breath to see what was in the letters... and it doesn't say :(

Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 23:24
Well, actually it does say that Thomas didn't know his age, so they wrote home and the answer came back that he'd be 70 next birthday. Surely that wasn't it? :eek:

07-12-07, 23:26
I suppose it's possible, if he believed that the God-given life-span of a man was "three-score years and ten"?

Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 23:31
True, I hadn't thought of that :)

Poor man. My grandfather signed to have him committed to the asylum, but he only lived for another 10 days. I assume he must have had vascular dementia or something of the kind.

The second file, which I'm still wading through, relates to his daughter Annie, who was in the asylum for 40 years - that one's very harrowing. I had no idea Margaret had been in one too - if it is her. Annie's file also says her cousin (mother's sister's son) was in an asylum - still trying to work out which cousin that was.

And I'm waiting for two more files for relatives on the English side of the family who were in asylums. Not very festive reading.

Olde Crone Holden
07-12-07, 23:38

If he was in a fragile state of mind, then the reminder of his age might have had some great significance for HIM that would not seem relevant to anyone else, I auppose. And there may have been other news of the "your cousin Fred has died" variety.

Trouble is, diagnosis was so poor back then and it is difficult to know what, if any, "mental" illness he was suffering from - it may have been Alzheimer's and his sudden death was nothing to do with that. Or it could have been any one of many physical conditions, which left untreated, cause "insanity".

Is there any clue from the daughter's file?


Mary from Italy
07-12-07, 23:44
If he was in a fragile state of mind, then the reminder of his age might have had some great significance for HIM that would not seem relevant to anyone else, I auppose.

Yes, true.

And there may have been other news of the "your cousin Fred has died" variety.

That's what I was expecting to find, yes.

Is there any clue from the daughter's file?

No, the daughter was admitted to the asylum 3 years later, 6 months after her mother died. From what I can gather she was probably always a bit backward, although she did manage to go to school, and her occupation's given as "domestic servant", but she was very upset by her mother's death, and went downhill from there. She was eventually diagnosed with dementia praecox, which according to Wikipedia is what we now know as schizophrenia. She seems to have deteriorated horrendously in the asylum, and never went home again.

According to Thomas's file he'd never had any previous episodes of insanity, which is why I wouldn't think he had Alzheimer's, which develops gradually. As you say, it could have been caused by an untreated physical illness, although there's no mention of that in the file.

Olde Crone Holden
08-12-07, 00:17
Oh, I agree, Alzheimer's develops gradually, and he may have had quite a few years of just being "a bit odd" but of no concern to anyone but his wife.

Most of the people I have known who have had Alzheimer's, have seemed perfectly fine to me one day, then the next I hear they are in a home, or a hospital, or whatever.

General discussion then throws up minor incidences of strangeness, but because no one was actually living with them, it wasn't noticed until it became critical.

69 is very late in life to develop schizophrenia, I think. It normally manifests itself in late adolescence or early adulthood.

Sorry - this is pointless wittering, I know, but I am always very suspicious of any diagnosis of mental illness back then, and I don't think the daughter's illness and the father's illness are necessarily related.


Mary from Italy
08-12-07, 00:38
It was the daughter who had schizophrenia, not the father :)

And I agree that their illnesses were probably not related.

Mary from Italy
08-12-07, 00:41
Anyone know what "faulty" means in an early 20th-century mental health context?

It appears once in this file, and numerous times in the daughter's file. I get the impression that it may mean "incontinent", but I can't find any confirmation. Nothing helpful on the Antiquus Morbus site.

Olde Crone Holden
08-12-07, 00:56

I told you I was wittering, lol - I was just following my own train of thought that just because the daughter had schizophrenia,(if indeed she did) didn't mean that was what her father had.

Sorry, can't help with faulty. The one file I have seen said "unclean in the bed every night this week" lol.


08-12-07, 12:16
mrs sauco.clyde street,croydon pak brenda xxx