Saturday, 26 March 2011

Fearless Females: Emma Elizabeth Dunstone AVERY - an educated woman

Emma Elizabeth Dunstone AVERY(1837-1915) was my paternal great-great-grandmother.  On the 1891 census, her husband is described as a widower - but Emma Elizabeth had not died.  She had been committed to the Bodmin (Cornwall) Lunatic Asylum on 25th July 1889 as a 'pauper patient' being of 'unsound mind'.  The Medical Gentleman (the form actually calls him that!) had to record various notes and medical reasons for her being there, and give a description of her - in this case, not a physical description as such, more of a mental one.

Emma Elizabeth is described as being 'fairly well educated for her station in life', that is, as the wife of a dockyard labourer.  I wonder what constituted 'fairly well educated'?

She was given tonics, and appeared cured, so was discharged on 3 June 1896.  Seven years in a Lunatic Asylum - and the cure was taking tonics!  Was that because medical knowledge hadn't advanced far enough, or because her 'illness' wasn't actually that severe?  She lived for nearly twenty years after that, but I'm sure her stay in the Asylum had left its mark.

This post is part of the Fearless Females theme to honour National Women's History month.

1 comment:

  1. How sad. I'd like to think those last 20 years were happy ones for her.



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