Monday, 10 November 2014

A Lace Maker in Need

Lacemaker, c.1905-1910 [X396/304]

Tuesday 10th November 1914:  The Relief of Distress Committee has received the following letter from Mrs Caroline Wright of Carlton:[1]
Saturday November 7th 1914Carlton, Beds
Dear Madam
I am writing to tell you that I wrote to local representative committee and they never answered my leter. I sent twice. The parish doctor gave me meat and milk and as I am not likely to get well they give me 3s a week, and the little girl age 10 26 November so there is two of us to live. The rent is 1s 3d and coal 8d, oil 2¼d, candles 1d, soap 1d, wood 3d, 2s and 5¼ in all what we cannot eat. I have sold a few bits of lace but they want it almost for nothing about ½d an hour. We don’t have half enough to eat. We have not got a bit of shoes to wear. I am wearing men’s low shoes as mine were worn out. I think I am in need. They don’t help them as need, they help those that are got plenty. We lay cold at nights people now at Carlton but don’t care. There was a lot of cake and bread and butter given away after a tea drinking and we go to bed hungry. We are clean and respectable and they think you don’t want anything. They only help the dirty and lazy as a rule. They never try to help those that cannot help themselves. I have been wasting away. I have not got strength to do much. I have been left [widowed] close on twelve months and had to do the best I could as I was too young for the parish. My age is 53 and the parish don’t give it till you are 60. I should be very glad if you could send to us if only something to keep us warm.
From Caroline Wright, widow, Carlton, Beds
It is because of the war the lace buyer cannot buy it as they cannot sell it and so we have to sell it where we can. I can’t do nothing only make lace.[2]
Source: General correspondence file of Relief of Distress Committee [WW1/RD5/3/1]

[1] Spelling has been corrected for ease of reading.

[2] In response to this letter the committee paid Caroline Wright five shillings from the Relief Fund on 15th November. However on 18th November they received a letter from Charles Pettit of Harrold House, Harrold pointing out that the little girl who lived with her was not her own and that the Relieving Officer had not been able to find the girl’s parents. He admits the lace trade is not as good as it was but it was still continuing and he not consider the case should come under the war relief fund. As the County Council’s representative for the district it was his responsibility to report all cases that came under the fund, and he wonders who made the application. The committee’s record card for Caroline Wright is annotated “a great talker and grumbler and no worker if she can help it”. Although a further letter was received from Mrs Wright by the committee in December no more payments appear to have been made to her. 

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