One of the people i’ve been researching is an ancestor called Jane Burn. I mentioned her before – the lady whom, according to the 1881 census, was still working as a matron in a hospital at the ripe age of 84. Well.. i tracked down the hospital she worked at. It wasn’t actually a hospital, but an almshouse. I suppose these days we’d call it a retirement home, except it was meant for elderly people who didn’t really have any money, or anywhere to go, and it gave them money as well as a place to live. It was founded back in the 14th Century and although the actual buildings have been demolished and rebuilt over the intervening years, its survived in the same spot more or less ever since, with a few interruptions.

Jane wasn’t born a Burn, Burn is her married name (i haven’t been able to find out her maiden name, sadly, as she was born – and married, i think – prior to compulsory registration in 1837), and i am still investigating her life but what was clear was that by 1881 she was working at that almshouse, despite a great age. I researched the almshouse on the internet, found that it is very much still in operation and wrote to the current Master of the almshouse and received a reply this morning. He enclosed a copy of Jane’s death certificate, a photograph of the memorial to her that is in the chapel attached to the building, and information about Jane’s time at the almshouse, including when she first went there, which rooms she lived in and so on. It also transpires that Jane was even older than the 1881 census makes out: the memorial and death certificate both give a death date of 26th June 1884, and an age of 93, and that she was a matron of the house for 54 years (having started at the almshouse on 16th August, 1838). Quite incredible.

I plan to do more research into this remarkable lady, but  it was so kind of the Master to send me such information, and i think my gran/great aunt will be very appreciative of this – especially a second cousin of mine (who shares the Jane ancestry), who started her career as a nurse, and who i think will be pleased to know that nursing goes back even further in the family than she previously knew.

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