Lucy Silversides (1840-1887)

Whilst visiting the East Riding archives at Beverley, I carried out a search of the East Riding of Yorkshire County pauper lunatic asylum case books (NH6/64/20) to see if there were any records for any of my ancestors who might have been admitted to it. The asylum was called Broadgate Hospital and located in Walkington near Beverley. The land it was built on was part of Broadgate farm; it was opened on 25 October 1871 and has since been demolished. Walkington was described by Lewis in 1848 as follows:

The following OS Yorkshire CCX.II map, dated 1893, shows the location of the asylum to the north east of the village of Walkington, just off the B1230 road.

The East Riding archives hold a series of case books for Broadgate hospital and my ancestor Lucy Silversides featured in the women’s case book number 5. Lucy was the wife of John Silversides (1822-1888), my second cousin five times removed. She was born Lucy Rhodes in 1840 in Patrington, Yorkshire to parents Thomas Rhodes (1804-1883) and Elizabeth Blenkin (1805-1879). By the time Lucy’s brother Arthur died in 1854, the family were living in Osgodby, a few miles from Riccall where John Silversides lived. Lucy married John in St Mary’s church, Riccall on 11 November 1858; Lucy was 18 and John 36.

In the 1861 census John, Lucy and their daughter Elizabeth (1859-1886) were living in Riccall where John was described as a farmer of 100 acres employing two labourers. John and Lucy had nine children: six boys and three girls. Two of their sons died in infancy, three children in their twenties, two sons have been difficult to trace and just one of their children definitely married: Margaret Ann Silversides (1873-1917). In 1891 their son Arthur Rhodes Silversides (1871-1949) was a footman at The Villa in Escrick; a property where I once owned an apartment. By 1901 he had become a butler; when he died on 11 January 1949 in York, he left effects to the value of £1,784 8s 9d. The following chart shows John, Lucy and their family.

Arthur’s mother Lucy faired rather differently. By the 1881 census John, Lucy and six of their children (Elizabeth, Boswell, Henry, John, Arthur and Margaret) were living in Dam End in Riccall. Their daughter Lucy was living with her aunt and uncle. By now John was aged 59 and described as an agricultural labourer, as were their sons Boswell and Henry. Boswell and Henry were recorded as joining the police in Leeds in 1885. Daughter Elizabeth died in 1886 and sons John and Arthur and daughter Margaret were elsewhere in 1891. Perhaps by the time Lucy was admitted to the Broadgate hospital in 1887 she had been affected by significant changes in her family life.

Lucy was admitted to Broadgate from the Selby Union on 1 March 1887. The case book mentioned that her first mental health attack had lasted for eight months. It is interesting to note that she entered the asylum from the Selby Union. She was described as being aged 50, married and her religion was Church of England. With regards to her mental health, she was of a nervous temperament, dangerous and with her form of insanity described as mania. She was said to be excited and “the patient talks to herself”.

Her physical condition was described as tall, poorly nourished and dirty. The case book then goes onto outline her mental and physical state after her admission. On 4 March “her conversation was silly and voluble”. By 11 March Lucy was “physically in a very bad state and appears to be getting weaker daily…she is nervous and excited and most difficult to manage in short nothing can be done with her…she won’t eat.” It went onto say that “the diet for the most part consists of butter, eggs milk mixture with brandy”. Lucy had diarrhoea.

Lucy died on 13 March 1887 at 8.50pm in the presence of nurse Phebe Allan. Her cause of death was Phthisis. An autopsy was carried out and the record certified by the asylum Medical Superintendent Dr Murdoch Donald McLeod. After her death Lucy was buried in St Mary’s churchyard, Riccall. Her husband John died just over a year later on 16 March 1888. He too was buried in the churchyard. After his death the cottage he was living and his household furniture were sold at auction by Thomas Walker Auctioneers, according to the York Herald dated 14 April 1888. Perhaps by then none of his children were around to take an interest in his furniture.

So far, I’ve been unable to trace what happened to two of John and Lucy’s sons: Henry  Silversides (born 1864) and John William Silversides (born 1868). Do let me know if you have any stories about the family which you are willing to share with me.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence and sourced from the NLS maps site


Births, marriages and deaths. : accessed May 2023.

Broadgate asylum. : accessed May 2023.

Broadgate hospital case books. NH/6/64/20, pp 131-132.

Census records. : accessed May 2023.

Lewis, Samuel ed. (1848) A Topological Directory of England. London: Lewis. : accessed May 2023.

OS Map. : accessed May 2023.

Probate records. : accessed May 2023.

Riccall. : accessed May 2023.

West Yorkshire, England Police Records, 1833-1914. : accessed May 2023.

Yorkshire baptisms, marriages and burials. : accessed May 2023.

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