My 3x Great Grandparents William Reubon and Maria Elizabeth Plaskett did the unimaginable, in 1891 they abandoned all 8 of their children at their then home 60 Abbey Lane, West Ham, Essex.
For the next 7-8 years the children were forced to spend their lives as paupers in one of Victorian London’s most unimaginable places ever. ‘Poplar Union Workhouse’
I find it extremely difficult to understand why parents would abandon their children, William Reubon in his early life was a well respected watchmaker in the East End of London a family trade which had been passed down through the ages and can be traced back to the 17th century just before the Great Fire of London.
But something changed in him in the 1890’s, he began suffering from a mental illness which eventually caused him and his wife to just up and leave. The children were aged between 11 and O, one of the youngest Frederick Nicholas Plaskett died shortly after entering Poplar Union. Sadly his short life wasn’t even recorded, his death just a footnote among the yellowed pages of London’s poor law records.
The 2 eldest children escaped the workhouse much earlier then their siblings, one of which was my 2x great grandfather Edmund Lionel Plaskett who probably found work aged either 14 or 15, but even so Edmund still spent 4 or 5 years of his life in there.
On the 19th April 1898 negotiations began to remove the children from the unions care, a mistake has been made on this paperwork, it reads that one of the two eldest children was a Robert Plaskett’ but Robert never existed?!? They are actually talking about my 2x great grandfather Edmund, it is such a shame that their lives were so insignificant that they couldn’t even remember his name.
William Reubon Plaskett went insane about 1899 and spent 18 months hard labour in Pentonville Prison for grievously harming his eldest son and daughter-in-law. He eventually ended up in Poplar Union Workhouse himself before finally being admitted to Long Grove Lunatic Asylum, he died in 1918.