On our second visit to Westbury Museum, HATS met Mrs Anne Baxandall from the Fareham History Group who very kindly shared the sad story of the Bishops Waltham Boys who were sent to Fareham. Mrs Baxandall talked about how she researched this story, which took place in 1836, by looking through the detailed Minutes of Board Meetings. The Minutes were part of very large books which kept a ‘minute by minute’ record of meetings – all written by hand – this was long before computers, the internet or even typewriters! Mrs Baxandall read through pages and pages of these records to uncover this story.
HATS learned how three very young boys named Robert Withers, Jonathan Cooke and William Warren were treated badly and punished at the Fareham Workhouse. Punishment included giving them less food, use of stocks, wearing a ‘fools cap’ with the word ‘dirty’ written on it, and being put in an outhouse. Their treatment became public knowledge because the local MP mentioned it in a speech he gave to the House of Commons on February 24th 1837. This led to an inquiry and eventually the children were sent back to Bishops Waltham. And what happened to the three boys … Mrs Baxandall found records to show that by end of April 1937, Robert and William left the workhouse to live with relatives but poor Jonathan was still at the workhouse and it is very likely that he died at a young age.