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In Search of a Family Mystery

Earlier this month, Mike Ward came into the History Centre to unearth a bit of a family mystery. 

He knew of a distant family member that had come into some money in the 1860s but wanted to know how this man came into such a large fortune. What he found was quite a story! As it turns out, the man inherited £4500 after he had been in and out of workhouses during his adult life. This amount of money was no small sum in the mid to late 19th century. Sadly though, his fortune was relinquished to his sister and brother-in-law when they appealed to the High Court to have him declared insane. When declared a lunatic, one could not make a will, so it may have been that his sister and her husband were hoping to aquire the sum of money using underhand means. 

However, it is also known that during this period of time, people with mental health problems people were often sent to workhouses, so the case may have been genuine. It is known that this man spent the remainder of his days in "lunatic asylums" (as they were known at the time). 

Mr Ward found several articles about his long lost relative’s fortune, but none of them mentioned where this fortune came from or why his family had him declared insane. Mr Ward has come to the History Centre to look for articles that may fill in the gaps to this extraordinary story.

If you have a family mystery that you'd like to research, the Coventry History Centre is the perfect place to start! Find out more.