Posted: 2nd December 2022
As part of the Ferens Art Gallery winter exhibition, Queen Victoria and Hull, Hull and District History Research Group have been researching Victorian Hull. This blog is the latest in a series revealing the hidden stories from Victorians in Hull; Julia Hammond grew from one of ten children in a poor family, to starting a legacy of midwifery in Hull. This is her story as written by Maureen Fox.
Julia Hammond was born on 31st December 1859 in Wisbech, to Christopher and his wife Martha. She was the youngest of 10 children.
In the late 1860s the family moved to Hull and lived at 3 Fanny’s Terrace, Clarendon Street. After her father died aged 51 in 1871, Martha (her mother) had to raise the children alone until in 1874 she married John Hare. Martha died in 1885.
When Julia was only 15 when she married George Turpin at St Andrews Church, Kirk Ella on the 28th March 1875. As she was illiterate, she could only make her mark. She incorrectly gave her age as 18 as she was under the age to be married.
Julia and George had 15 children, of which only 10 survived childhood. In 1881 the family was living in Cliffe near Market Weighton, but later moved to Gillett Street, Hull.
Although Julia did not have much education and could not read or write she trained to become a midwife. At this time only unmarried mothers and poor women gave birth in hospitals. A majority of births in the working-class areas of Hull were looked after by a ‘local woman’ who would not be qualified but would have experience in attending births.
On 1st March 1905 the first maternity home in Hull was opened on 1st March 1905 at 569 Holderness Road, near Westminster Avenue. The old Sanatorium on Hedon Road was in 1929 converted into a maternity home (pictured from the Wilberforce House Museum collection). It cost £1.00 to enter the home but many families could not afford it.
Julia was one of only a small number of certified mid-wives in Hull. Riding a sit up and beg bike, complete with basket, she was a well-known figure in the Hull Road area. She would have been on call 24 house a day and 7 days a week. Before she retired, she had delivered over 2500 babies in West Hull.
Her husband died at Eastbourne Street on 21 July 1929 aged 71, and on 2 May 1937, Julia died aged 77 at 36 King Street, off Charles Street. Both Julia and her husband are buried in Hull General Cemetery, but the headstone is no longer there.
Her daughter and granddaughter both followed her into midwifery, and both served the Hessle Road area.
You can view objects from the Ferens, Wilberforce House Museum, Hands on History, Guildhall and Hull Archive collections in the Queen Victoria and Hull exhibition from 20 October 2022 until 19 February 2023.