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Leeds Girls' Industrial School

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Wordcloud of Leeds Reformatory Girls' Names

The inspiration for this A Few Forgotten Women Friday’s collaborative research was a ledger held by West Yorkshire Archive Service. It is available on Ancestry in the dataset ‘West Yorkshire, England, Reformatory School Records, 1856-1914’. Although the details in the Ancestry catalogue describe the records as relating to Shadwell Reformatory, Leeds, the institution did not move to Shadwell Lane until 1879 and then only boys were transferred there. At the time when girls were being admitted, the Industrial School was located in Edgar Street. The ledger spans the period 1862-1879. Sixty-seven girls appear in the admissions’ book between 1863 and 1871. Some girls have detailed records, including a physical description, family information and an account of their behaviour; for others, the information is sparse.

Forty of these girls are also enumerated in the 1871 census for the Windsor Street Ragged School. This institution provided an additional seven girls to research, who were found in the census but had no entry in the Industrial School ledger. There are summaries about the history of Edgar Street Industrial School and Windsor Street Ragged School on Peter Higginbotham’s excellent Children’s Homes website. From this we learn that the premises in Edgar Lane opened in 1861 and from 1862, was officially recognised as an Industrial School, eligible to received children who had been referred by the magistrates. The girls, mostly between the ages of eight and fourteen, had often been found begging or associating with known criminals, some were sleeping rough.

The case notes for Isabella Hutton, who entered the home in December 1862, give an impression of the problems, ‘Indeed we had not a fair chance to deal with girls at all. Had them in a cottage house opposite the school in Edgar Street to sleep at nights. Gave us much trouble with the boys. Could not keep them separate, would be together, which was a great grief to us.’ The home was extended in 1864-5 but remained better equipped to cater for boys than girls; initially the plan was to board the girls out in suitable local houses. During an outbreak of typhus in the school, in 1866, the girls were relocated to Harrogate.

Peter Higginbotham writes, ‘In 1867, the girls under detention were lodged in a house on Springfield Terrace under the care of its matron, Miss Land. …. By 1869, the girls’ lodgings had been moved to a building called the Convalescent Home. … In 1870, … the girls under detention were removed to the new Leeds Girls’ Industrial School on Windsor Street, Burmantofts.’ This premises was equipped to take eight-five girls. The girls received a basic education, as well as learning domestic skills that were intended to fit them for work.

In 1871 the school’s matron was thirty-year-old Susan Robb, assisted by Annie L Burns and Isabella Harkness; all three women had been born in Scotland. The forty-eight girls who were resident, ranged between the ages of seven and fifteen. Thirty-four had been born in Leeds, four elsewhere in Yorkshire, one was from each of Birmingham, Cumberland, Lancashire and Scotland; six girls’ birthplaces were unknown. Annie Lyons took charge of the school in 1872 and remained there until 1887. In 1874, the school was disrupted by the arrival of a number of girls from the York Industrial School.

The girls from this institution were researched on 20 January 2023 by fifty-three family historians from across Britain; their stories are below.

Emily Barrett c.1855-? from Righton, Yorkshire – Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 7 minute read

Eliza Binns, later Eliza MacDonald aka McDonnell 1857-? from Hull, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 6 minute read

Clara Bowles 1852-? and Sarah Bowles c.1856-? from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 3 minute read

Mary Ann Cardis, later Mary Ann Thwaites 1857-1931 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 5 minute read

Maria Day 1855-? from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 6 minute read

Elizabeth Eastburn, later Elizabeth Sledding aka Sledhill aka Blenkinsop, then Elizabeth Sawyer 1857-1937 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Disability, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 4 minute read

Jane Northrop Fallon 1863-? from Leeds, Yorkshire - Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Prostitution. 8 minute read

Anne Mary Fletcher, later Anne Mary Robinson 1858-1940 from Hunslet, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 10 minute read

Emma Fletcher, later Emma Simkinson 1856-1886 from Hunslet, Yorkshire – Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 11 minute read

Mary Jane Haddock c.1858-1872 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 6 minute read

Sarah Ellen Hannah, later Sarah Ellen Dennison 1863-1926 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 5 minute read

Sarah Hargreave(s), later Sarah Corps 1857-1910 from Hunslet, Yorkshire – Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 5 minute read

Isabella Elizabeth Holmes, later Isabella Elizabeth Childerson 1862-1944, from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 4 minute read

Isabella Hutton, later Isabella Wilson 1851-1894 from Hull, Yorkshire - Abandonment, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 5 minute read

Sarah Ann Kirby, later Sarah Ann Thompson 1861-1915 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 8 minute read

Margaret Lillie 1855-? and Mary Lillie 1859-? from Leeds, Yorkshire - Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 4 minute read

Anne Lockwood, later Anne Coatham 1860-1906 from Hoylandswaine, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 10 minute read.

Emma Lockwood, later Emma Adams 1855-1928 from Hunslet, Yorkshire - Abandonment, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 7 minute read

Eliza Longster, later Eliza Booth 1856-? from Leeds, Yorkshire – Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 5 minute read

Sarah Ellen MacDonald, later Sarah Copley 1857-1834 from Barnsley, Yorkshire – Disability, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 2 minute read

Harriet Malthouse 1856-? from Leeds, Yorkshire – Abandonment, Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 3 minute read

The McDermott Sisters from Leeds, Yorkshire Louisa Murrell née McDermott 1857-1887, Agnes 1859-?, Jane 1861-? and Catherine 1863-1873 - Lawbreaking, Poverty. Warning, this story includes a description of a violent attack. 7 minute read

Elizabeth Murphy c.1855-? and Ellen Murphy c.1855-? from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty, Leeds Girls’ Industrial School. 8 minute read

Jane Newlands, later Jane Winter 1860-? from Dalston, Cumberland - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 8 minute read

Clara Pigott aka Pickett, later Clara Stead aka Baker 1857-1916 from Goole, Yorkshire - Infanticide, Lawbreaking, Poverty. Warning this story involves child murder. 6 minute read

Sarah Elizabeth Ramsden, later Sarah Elizabeth Tyers 1857-1909 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 10 minute read

Jane Ann Reed aka Webster, later Jane Ann Stead 1851-1888 from Leeds, Yorkshire – Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Prostitution. 4 minute read

Ann Elizabeth Robshaw, later Ann Elizabeth Dunhill 1856-1936 from Leeds, Yorkshire – Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 5 minute read

Jane Sharp Rowley 1857-? from Leeds, Yorkshire - Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty. 4 minute read

Annie Schofield c.1860-? from Oldham, Lancashire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 4 minute read

Hannah Smailes, later Hannah Blakey 1855-1887 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty. 5 minute read

Jane Elizabeth Stalker (known as Elizabeth), later Jane Elizabeth Seyner or Senior 1851-1878 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty, Suicide. 4 minute read

Matilda Jane Stewart, later Matilda Jane Geldard 1854-1935 from Scotland - Illegitimacy, Lawbreaking, Poverty, Prostitution. 10 minute read

Emily Strafford 1857-1872 from Leeds, Yorkshire - Lawbreaking, Poverty, Leeds Girls’ Industrial School. 3 minute read

Jane Ann Webster – see Jane Ann Reed

The Wilkinson Sisters from Leeds, Yorkshire Annie 1857-?, Sarah 1860-? and Margaret Wilson née Wilkinson 1863-? - Lawbreaking, Poverty. Warning this story includes an account of an unpleasant death. 6 minute read

Other Girls

The nature of these girls' lives means that some of them proved elusive. At the moment, we do not have enough information about them to list them with a story of their own but we are committed to remembering them. What we do know about them is included in our Other Girls file, where you will find information about Sarah Ann Atkinson, Mary Bass, Elizabeth Bell, Luisa Bruane aka Louisa Brown, Sarah Ann Dixon/Dickson, Mary Ellen Flannery, Mary/May Grimes, Sarah Ann Halliwell, Clara Heald aka Hill, Anne Herd aka Marsh, Mary Ann and Catherine Martin, May McCue/Mary McKue, Mary McCutcheon, Mary Ann Rider, Jane Ann Robson, Sarah Ann Savage aka Sarah Ann Kirby Steel, Margaret Schouler, Louisa Skinner, Ann Stead, Sarah Jane Surridge, Mary and Agnes Swailes, Ellen Taylor, Catherine Thompson, Ada Waddington and Ellen Watson.

We do still have a few girls who are still being researched, they will be added as soon as possible.

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