Some hospital records
When the General Hospital was founded in the mid-18th Century it was not envisaged solely as a place of healing, it was also a poorhouse.
A book in the Lord Coutanche Library of La Société Jersiaise lists visitors to the hospital from 1773 to 1844. It contains many letters of thanks and testimonies from visitors who seemed to treat it as a tourist attraction.
On 26 May 1830 Acton Tindal of Aylesbury and Catherine Morgan of Colchester were: "Much gratified by the cleanliness and general appearance of the hospital."
Ashurst Majerdie, Assitant Poor law Commissioner, commented: "I have examined this establishment with satisfaction, with this exception, that the same fault exists here which has lately been noticed in some English workhouses, namely, that the diet (which consists of meat five days in the week) is too high, unless for the aged or those who may require it by the directions of the medical attendants. The majority of the inmates consist of persons who have been reduced to lower destitiution by their own bad conduct, they live in this establishment far better than the independant labourer maintaining his family by his industry."
There is also a register of batisms dated 1838 to 1878, and many of the children listed were foundlings. How they came by their names sometimes depended on where they were found, in one case Gloucester Street: 10 September 1843:
- "A foundling left at the hospital door on the night of the 1st to 2nd day of September 1843 was this day baptised by the names of Philip Gloucester. The child when brought in was a few hours old."
- Catherine de Mai, the story of another foundling whose baptism appears in the register.
In a book of Royal Court Acts there is a legal battle between the General Hospital and the London and South Western Railway Company, as to who was responsible for paying to keep the pauper Margaret White (daughter of Patrick - born at Killahalla, East Lismore, Waterford, Ireland on 1 July 1871) and daughter Gladys, when they arrived penniless in Jersey on a steamer from Southampton in 1898.
Drunks and vagabonds
An article in the Chronique de Jersey contained a list of the occupants of the hospital over a one-year period commenced in October 1849. By then the sick and the poor were sharing the premises with mental patients, drunks and prostitutes.
The list included: 51 mental patients, 208 ill, 24 victims of accidents, seven children abandoned at the hospital, two children abandoned by their parents; 509 drunks, vagabonds and disturbers of the public peace, 106 restricted probationers, one attempted suicide, 35 prostitutes and 17 elderly and incapable.
The total number of people who passed through the hospital that year was 1,444. Of these, 191 were children whose admission was due to "the intemperance or bad conduct of their parents". There were 56 deaths, 61 escapes, 858 discharged and 30 children who were placed in service. Those who remained in the hospital from 1 October 1850 numbered 348.
Other records were lost in the fires of 1783 and 1859.