The Survivors

Fourteen year old Mary escaped the workhouse. Prior to her parents’ trial at the assizes, she was taken in by her aunt and uncle, living a very different life with the Perris family in Anson Street than she had experienced in Eldon Place. John Perris had been appointed Head Librarian at the Lyceum earlier that year. At the time of his death in 1872 he left an estate valued at under £2,000.

A portrait of John Perris is owned by the Liverpool Museums Service. Richard Norbury, the artist, was also commissioned to paint Hugh Shimmin, a well-known journalist of the period who documented much of the lifestyles and poverty of working-class people in Liverpool.

The Aspinall case would certainly have made an interesting case study for one of Shimmin’s articles.

Mary senior died in September 1859 aged 45. Her death certificate says pthisis dropsy. The two years hard labour she served no doubt took a severe toll on her health. She is buried in Walton cemetery in what appears to be a pauper’s grave. Present at death was Mary Aspinall of the same address, 70 Dryden Street. This seems to indicate that Mary’s eldest daughter moved back in with her after she was released from prison.

Eleven year old Daniel Burns died in July 1860. His death certificate reports spinal disease, lumbar abcess. Again Mary junior was present at the death and was the informant on the death certificate. The address for both was Albert Terrace, Prince Edwin Street. Mary, by then still only eighteen years old, had witnessed and endured almost unimaginable suffering and loss. Only five children were left alive from that scene of starvation and neglect in Eldon Place six years earlier.

William senior stayed in Liverpool. In 1861 he was working as a Cotton Porter and living with his aunt, Elizabeth Winstanley, and cousins, Ellen and Hannah. Two of his surviving children, sixteen year old William Henry and thirteen year old Elizabeth Jane had then moved back in with him. He appears to have been co-habiting with Ellen Winstanley and was living with her until his death in 1882. At his home in Dunnett Street, not far from Eldon place, he suddenly came over faint and, leaning on the fireplace, fell in the fire. He died six weeks later. He was 69.

Mary junior was living again with her aunt and uncle in 1861. After that it becomes difficult to trace her. It seems most likely that she married a draper named William Simpson but we are still researching what became of her after that.

The older children in the family, who had some education before things began to go so badly wrong, were at least equipped to earn a respectable living and appear to have shown remarkable resilience. John, the eldest son, moved to London. He was there during the 1861 census and made a home there until his death. He worked as a merchant’s clerk and married and had one surviving son.

William Henry remained in Liverpool. He seems to have prospered, ending his career as a clerk of works and fathering several children.

Charles married and worked as a barber. He died in 1906 in Southport aged 59 with one surviving son. His effects were valued at £125 16s 3d. His address at the time was Grey Rock Street in Liverpool.

Elizabeth Jane, the seven-year old who pumped cold water over her baby sister, perhaps unwittingly contributing to her premature death, died in 1933 aged 86. She married a man called Samuel Benedict and had one surviving child, also called Elizabeth Jane.