Kitty Wilkinson, a most remarkable woman, born in County Derry, Ireland, but living most of her remarkable life caring and working for the poor in Liverpool. This is a biography not to be missed by any serious student of civic history.
One can only speculate that on the day of their departure from Derry, the Seaward family must have had mixed feelings, leaving their home and a country in turmoil. News would no doubt have reached them that Liverpool was a rapidly expanding town, which would give them an opportunity to create a better future for their young family. A man would need a stout heart to take them on a sea voyage of over 200 miles in 1794, but Liverpool it had to be.
The Seawards set sail on a winter morning in early February when the sun was rising. Catherine and her younger brother were exploring the workings of this small sailing ship while her mother sat cradling her infant child. Mr Seaward paid more attention to Catherine and her brother, making sure they kept out of the way of the ship’s crew. A more pleasant day the family could not have wished for, it was like spring and everybody was thankful for a few hours of sunshine.
The Life of Kitty Wikinson
"In common with many Liverpudlians of Irish extract, Michael Kelly was brought up in the city's Scotland Road area, where history hung on the fog and the bicycle bells of factory workers rang into a dawn sky that was pierced by cranes hauling the goods of a mighty empire onto the quays. Pride in their Irish ancestry rolled through the generations like the great river herself. Although Michael became a carpenter, working on fine liners across the Mersey in Birkenhead's Cammell Laird shipyard, he was always an historian, reading and listening to stories about the men and women whose past had shaped our present. In later life, Michael has been able to write about them in a series of books and articles of which this biography of Kitty Wilkinson is a splendid example. Broad of shoulder, nimble of step with a quizzical blue gaze in his eyes, Michael is now a familiar figure at podiums, addressing the members of local clubs and societies, a true historian of the people."
David Charters, Liverpool Daily Post columnist and broadcaster.
I have to congratulate Michael Kelly on his portrayal of one of Liverpool's most celebrated characters of the nineteenth century, Kitty Wilkinson. Kitty originated from Ireland and came to Liverpool under extreme conditions! Poverty and disease was rife in Liverpol and the first Medical Officer of Health, Doctor William Duncan, agreed that "Liverpool was the most unhealthy place to live in England". This is the story of Kitty Wilkinson's effort to combat such disease and social ills of the time! A good read.
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