Olivia Spooner died from ‘want’ on 30th March 1858 aged 15, and was buried in Wardsend shortly after. The 1851 Census shows her family consisting of parents Edward and Elizabeth, older brothers Edward, 13, Albert, 11, Robert, 3, and Frederick , 2, and sisters Mary, 7, and Julia, 1. This Census shows them living at Ran Moor.
Olivia’s father, Edward, was a cutler by trade, but had been struggled for work in the time leading up to Olivia’s death. The family had been struggled increasingly since the death of Olivia’s mother at some point between 1851 and 1858. However, this was even further worsened in the three weeks before by Olivia’s father sustaining an injury that kept him from work for 3 weeks. When an inquest visited their house, they found there was no furniture worthy of the name. Edward Spooner and three of his living children were seated in the kitchen, apparently on the verge of starvation themselves, and clothed in dirty rags. The body of the deceased girl was lying on a bed, covered with a heap of miscellaneous clothing, men’s and women’s, ragged with age and as black as ink with filth.
Dr. Wilson, working for the inquest, had previously visited the house. He had immediately seen that the chief cause of the poor girl’s suffering was want of proper food and clothing. Upon leaving the house, he gave information of the facts to Mr. Dearden, the relieving officer, who at once sent a cab to bring Spooner and his family to the workhouse, so that they might be properly attended. However, upon the cab reaching the house, Spooner positively refused to allow himself or his family to be removed, bolted and locked the door in the face of the man in charge of the cab, and put the poker in the fire to attack him, should he attempt to remove them by force. In the absence of help, Olivia had starved to death.
http://www.friendsofwardsendcemetery.btck.co.uk/People accessed 18/4/2017
Profile Researched by Leona Awoyele and Friends of Wardsend Cemetery
Profile Written by Tom Gidlow