On Saturday the remains of Private Thomas Webster were interred in the Uplands Cemetery, Smethwick. The deceased, who latterly resided in Union-street, Smethwick, died in destitute circumstances at the age of 34 from consumption. His illness was directly attributable to the wounds he received at Paardeberg. After the survival of shocking wounds, owing to the remarkable surgical treatment which he received, he completely broke down, falling a victim ultimately to consumption. It was a pitiable case. Being invalided home, Webster was thrown upon the mercy of his friends. His relations could not be found, and for about two years he has led a miserable life, and engaged in one continual struggle with poverty and disease. He had endeavoured to earn his living by hawking matches, but the inclement weather forced him to relinquish this means of livelihood, and he was admitted to the Workhouse Infirmary, where he died. The people were making arrangements for the poor law authorities to defray the cost of the funeral, when the workpeople of Messrs Ashbury and Sons, where the deceased was formerly employed, intervened and subscribed to a fund which obviated the necessity of the remains of the late soldier being interred in a pauper's grave.
The Cardiff Times, Saturday 7th February 1903
Consumption is now known as tuberculosis.
The General Register Office confirms the death of a Thomas Webster in the first quarter of 1903, the death being registered at King's Norton.
There's a Union Street on the north side of Smethwick, running parallel to the M5 motorway, and near Smethwick Galton Bridge railway station. Smethwick's workhouse was shared with Harborne, in the vicinity of Lordswood Road's junction with Gillhurst Road, Harborne, and about 2½ miles south of Union Street.
However, it seems that Harborne's workhouse had closed well before 1903, so if that's correct, Webster would likely have been sent to King's Norton workhouse, which was situated in Raddlebarn Road, Selly Oak (where Selly Oak Hospital is now), and which was definitely open in 1903. There are excellent photos of some of the workhouse buildings that existed around 1903 at
Interestingly, Webster gave his intended place of residence upon discharge as number 36 Cross Street Smethwick, very sad indeed, but, I suppose certainly far from unique, it does make one wonder if all the gold under the rand was really worth all that effort.
I've bought a pdf of his death certificate, so we now have the exact date of his death, and also his age, 38; however, it gives where he died as being 101, Union Street, Smethwick Urban District, whereas the newspaper report says he died in the workhouse infirmary. W. Smith, who was both present at and reported the death, also resided at 101, Union Street.
Can anyone make out his place of work? Labourer at Lyon Works?
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