This is the story of Charlotte, my great grandmother, widowed in 1905 in Birmingham, England, with six children under age 10. See Part 1 of this story.
Within 2 months of her husband’s death, Charlotte was desperate, desperate enough to ask the local Catholic orphanage, Father Hudson’s, to take in her three oldest boys. Her parish priest wrote on her application: “Mother seems consumptive. Good deserving case. Protestants have offered to take children, but Mother refuses.”
Her faith was important to her — she wanted them cared for by people who shared her religious beliefs.
While she waited for Father Hudson’s decision, she was granted charitable relief of 5 shillings and 5 loaves a week. In those days, the poverty line (by some estimates) was a family income of 20 shillings a week.
Charlotte’s sister Jane Talbot was willing to take baby Freddy at first, and already had one of the two girls, but she lived in Surrey, more than 100 miles away.
Father Hudson’s agreed to take the older boys but requested payment as soon as Charlotte found work. She applied for little Dorothy to be accepted there, too, but Dorothy was sent to a Sisters of Mercy orphanage nearby and rarely saw her brothers again until years later.
Charlotte moved to Surrey to live with her sister while she looked for work, but managed to visit her boys from time to time. She wrote to Father Hudson’s after a visit: “I am very much grieved over little George having sores and ringworm on his head.” She begged for word that her son was getting better.
Father Hudson’s wrote back briefly to say the boys were doing well.
Charlotte’s story continues tomorrow.