150th Anniversary of Astwood Cemetery The First Burial & Sad Going On's

  • 30 Jan 2019
  • Worcester People and Places
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Not much is recorded about Bridget (nee Butler) or John Ryan, apart from we know that John was a Stonemason's labourer and Bridget had rather a shaddy life, they originally came over from Mayo in Ireland during the Potato famine, Bridget was admitted to Worcester County Gaol,  Whitstones on two occasions:

12th July 1856, Bridget Butler was sentenced at Worcester Assizes for Larceny (Theft) for a period of 6 months in the County Gaol.

3rd March 1858, Bridget Ryan was sentenced at Worcester Assizes for Robbery with Company and previous conviction to be detained in the County Gaol.

At 8pm on the 26th August 1858, Bridget gave birth to a baby boy called John, following tradition named after is father, this was recorded on the birth certificate dated 1st September 1858, whereby Bridget made her mark and was a resident Prisoner at the County Gaol of Worcester.

On 7th September 1858, Bridget died during her second incarceration in the Gaol and was buried at St Georges Anglican Church, a further sad account took place some 4 weeks later on the 6th October 1858,  when Baby John was just 6 weeks old died never seeing the light of day, in the County Gaol, Mr W.J.Pitthughes who was the Worcester Coroner at the time of death confirmed at the Inquest  the cause being 'Atrophy; being Starvation. 

John senior appears not to have married again !

Where the Ryan's Victims of many due to the Famine?

In the mid 1800's, Ireland was one of the poorest countries of the Weston world. Although Ireland had suffered from many famines the most traumatic was the Great Famine which began in 1845 and continued for about six years.

The population of over eight million relied heavily on agriculture. The Potato was the main crop and constituted the bulk of the diet for most of the poorer people. The Famine began in September 1845, following an airbourne fungus (phytophthora) transported in the hulls of ships travelling from North America which spread on to the lands, infesting the potato crops.

1847, was known as Black Forty Seven, few people in many areas had employment and over three million people were either undernourished or staving to death.

A statement recorded by Daniel O'Connell to the House of Commons, 1847 confirms the seriousness of the situation:

"Ireland is in your hands, in your power, if you do not save her, she cannot save herself. I solemnly call upon you to recollect  that l with the sincerest conviction that a quarter of her population will perish unless you come to her rescue"

The poorest Irish could not afford the fares to America or Canada, they came to Britain. The main areas of arrival were Liverpool, Glasgow and Welsh ports, In 1947 it is estimated that over 300,000 destitute Irish people arrived in Liverpool, between 1840 - 1852.  1,241,410  Irish immigrants arrived and past through Liverpool.

It is estimated that between 700,000 - 1,000,000 died during the period from 1845- 1851