Birmingham City Council

The Malin Family, Birmingham, 1880s

The following pages concentrate on one family living in number 7 house, 7 court at the back of William Street, in the 1880s. There appear to have been no men living in the household, the head being given as Mary Malin, a widow born in Ireland. Her two daughters Anne and Margaret, together with six grandchildren, lived with her. In 1886 one of the boys met with a tragic accident, being found drowned in a local canal, which must have been a favourite haunt of the local children. Shortly after his mother applied to have his brother accepted by the Middlemore Emigration Homes. The family had all left by 1891, the time of the next census. This would have been fairly typical of the shifting population in what was then a very run down and impoverished neighbourhood.

Transcript of Census extract for William Street (1881)

The Malin family can be seen at no.7 house, 7 court, William Street. Mary Malin, a widow of 62, is shown as the head of the household. Her daughters, Ann Egan and Margaret Malin are living with her together with their six children. Ann Egan's husband is not mentioned and was presumably not living there at the time, although he is mentioned in the coroner's report in 1886. Similarly the father of Margaret's children is not mentioned but in 1886 she claims he had deserted her 18 months previously. Margaret has three children: Thomas, William and Ellen. William is shown as being 3 years old, but in 1886 is referred to several times as being 10. Mary was born in Ireland but her daughters and grandchildren were born in Birmingham. The occupations of the adults are shown as: Mary, monthly nurse (someone who would attend childbirth, but only under the direction of a medical practitioner - a midwife could attend normal births unsupervised); Anne, umbrella worker; and Margaret, spoon polisher.

Extracts from the coroner's report concerning the death of William Malin

These extracts give details of the death by drowning of William Malin. It is worth noting that some of the details conflict with those given in the census - either source may in fact be inaccurate. The one report gives his address as 10 court William Street, and the man who fished is body out of the canal is called both Rickerby and Rickaby. Transcribes as follows:

"46 Holloway Head, 23rd March 1886
Dear Sir,
I beg to inform you of the death of William Malin age about 10 years, 10ct William St - he was drowned in the canal Worcester Wharf this afternoon - it appears that he was fishing for small fish with another boy on bank of canal & fell in, the other boy then went for the police and fetched seargent 7A and another constable. Who arrived in time to see another youth named Rickaby Public House Suffolk Street Gough Street get him out 2 other men were also present I was sent for 3.5 & went at once but he was dead
I am yours very truly C.H Barratt Physician & Surgeon
T.H Hawkes Esq J.P & H.M Coroner for Birm"

"Birmingham Police
Memorandum From Superintendent Hervey, A Division, 23rd March 1886 to H Hawkes Esq J.P H.M Coroner, Temple Street
... PC George Watkins reports that at 2.40pm the 23 Inst, a boy named William Malin "age 10 yrs" son of Margaret Malin, of 7ct. 7 William Street, Broad street. Was drowned in an arm of B'Ham & Worcester Canal, on Worcester Wharf, the body was got out of the water by George Rickerby, the Plough Inn L.H Suffolk Street. Mr Barrett "Surgeon" Holloway Head, was in attendance, who had been sent for by Mr Amos Roe, the body now lies at the Moor Street mortuary. Witness George Rickerby, as above.
Walter Floyd 28ct 9 house William Street and Ralph Austin Bk 20 Florence Street"

Application for Thomas Malin to be received by the Middlemore Homes (1886)

John Middlemore opened his emigration homes in St Lukes Road, Selly Oak, in 1872 as a charitable institution for homeless and deprived children from the overcrowded slums of Birmingham. Boys and girls were admitted to the homes up to about the age of 13. After a short period of training they were taken to Canada and settled with families, either as servants or as adopted children.

Thomas Malin was one of five children who lived in no. 7 House, 7 Court, William Street. The father had apparently deserted the home some months before. Thomas regularly played truant from school and a younger brother had recently drowned in the nearby canal. Thomas was admitted to the Homes in 1886 at the age of 10 and sailed to Canada later that year. He was settled with John Miller of St Helens, Huron County, Ontario, who agreed to provide him with board and lodging in exchange for service. By December 1892, when a representative from Middlemore Homes visited Thomas, he was living with and employed by a Mr Todd, the most wealthy man in the locality, who owned a lumber business.

The document is transcribed as follows:

"1886 April 24, No 821.
Name of Parent Margaret Malin, 7C 7H William Street, Five Ways
Name and Age of child Thomas Malin 11yrs Jan 17/87 Illegitimate
General Condition Husband deserted me 18 months ago and never since heard of him. I am a spoon & fork polisher at Daniel's Arter's earn from 10/- to 12/- per week, I have 4 more children oldest 13 goes to service.

Special Condition Boy won't go to school. I have been summoned 5 times & had to pay 30/- in all. Afterwards admitted that she was unmarried - lived with a man fourteen years - he has now deserted - he was a scamp for he never give me much money & used to knock me about when he was drunk - Boy a truant. Had a boy drowned in Worcester canal a month ago. Received


William Street