‘deprived of usual liberty’

31 workhouse inmates sign this letter saying that they have not been allowed out for eight weeks because of a smallpox epidemic even though they have been vaccinated recently, 20 March 1871, Catalogue ref: MH12/6996,

Poor Law Union: Chelsea

Union counties: Middlesex


Pauper petition.  James Kitsell

Chelsea Workhouse, 20 March 1871.


We the undersigned inmates of the above House beg most respectfully to address your honourable Board in respect to a grievance under which we are now suffering, In consequence of the prevalence of the smallpox we have been deprived of our usual liberty of going out on Sundays, thus depriving us of the benefit of air & exercise, & visiting our friends. It is now eight weeks since we last went out. All the inmates have been vaccinated in the house very recently & we humbly conceive there is very little danger of contagion. We think there is much more so from the admission of tramps. Inmates also go out daily to the stone yard to take bread & do oakum picking, they also go out with the wood truck. Messengers are daily sent out on various occasions, therefore we conceive we have been harshly treated. We would also mention that 4 inmates were let out yesterday, which is favouritism and decidedly wrong, if it is safe for them, it is equally so for us.

If your Honourable Board will be good enough to enquire into this matter the inmates will much appreciate your kindness. Our Friends have been prohibited from visiting the house for the last three months.

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