I have two ancestors who I know were patients at Nottingham General Hospital. One ancestor died at the hospital in 1835. The other was there at the time of the 1841 census, and died at home a few months later. A death notice in the local newspaper reports "His end was peace," suggesting a prolonged illness.

They both lived about 15-20 miles from Nottingham, and were about 60 years old. Neither were wealthy; one was a weaver, the other a labourer. This got me wondering about how unusual it was for someone of limited means to go to the county hospital at the end of life in the 1830s or 1840s. My impression is that most of my ancestors died at home during this period.

How was patient care at at Nottingham General Hospital funded in the 1830s? Would they themselves likely have had to pay for medical care they received? If not, could anyone have gone to the county hospital and expect to recieve treatment?

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According to the University of Nottingham, Nottingham General Hospital was

founded as a charitable institution by public subscription in 1782

which suggests that patients did not need to fund their own care in the 1830s if they were judged as deserving.

(The concepts of the deserving and undeserving poor -- and also the impotent poor -- crop up in many discussions of poverty in the England from the 16th century onwards. The undeserving or idle poor were capable of work but would not. The deserving poor were those who would work but could not temporarily due to unemployment, accident, or ill-health. The impotent poor were those too young, too old or permanently too unwell to work.)

Unfortunately, it looks as if the records (accounts, minutes, annual reports) that survive from your period of interest are unlikely to shed light on your ancestors, unless there was something that led them to be mentioned in the accounts or minutes. However, the records would still be worth consulting to understand how the hospital operated/was funded and the types of patients who were admitted.

Nottingham Hospital History casts some light on the hoops that had to be gone through to get admitted:

"No patient can be admitted (except in cases of accidents) without a recommendatory letters signed by a subscriber", and recommendations were in proportion to subscriptions given. For one hundred pounds down or five guineas annually a subscriber could recommend " six in-and twenty outpatients annually but shall not held more than two at any time in the house." However, subscribers her duties as well as rights and "in the case of death the person who recommended the deceased must either remove the corpse or defray the expenses."


To get into hospital the "object of distress" had to present himself at the hospital on Tuesday with a letter of recommendation. After examination by the physicians and surgeons, he was then questioned by the Weekly Board to ensure that he was "a proper object of charity."


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