Jonas Chitty

(An account of 19th century welfare by an employer for an employee who was fatally injured on duty)

by Peter Bloomfield

Jonas Chitty was born in Isleworth, Middlesex, on 1st August and baptised on 6th November 1842. On the 14th November 1863 he married Hannah Cripps, a farmer’s daughter, in St Leonard’s, Shoreditch. Before being employed by the North London Railway he had been a merchant seaman. He was recommended by W Adams for employment in the Traffic Department, therefore he was almost certainly employed in the Locomotive Department prior to moving to the Traffic Department as a porter.

He started as a porter at Dalston on Monday 15th June 1868, was twenty-five years old and his weekly wage was 18s per week. On the following Saturday, 20th June 1868, in attempting to jump on to the step of a carriage whilst in motion, he fell between the train and the platform and was seriously injured. He was granted sick leave on half pay. Six months later he was still in hospital and it was reported that he was unlikely to be fit again for duty.

In early 1869 The German Hospital, where he had been an in-patient since the accident, required his removal. Half pay was to continue until April. The Traffic Superintendent, however, enquired as to family’s circumstances and intimated that the allowance could not be continued any longer. He also liaised with parish authorities to arrange for removal of Chitty from hospital.

In April, he was moved to the London Hospital, where the authorities, if the case was found to be incurable, would not retain him for a longer period than one month. Steps were taken to secure, by election, his admission to the Royal Hospital for Incurables, but pending the election he could be received into the Institution by payment of £60 per annum. The authorities of the London Hospital had consented to retain Chitty as an in-patient until 5th July 1869, after which his removal would become necessary under the hospital’s regulations.

The case was submitted for consideration by the Committee of Management of the Royal Hospital of Incurables. The Company agreed to grant £20, provided his friends raised £10, for immediate admission to Royal Hospital for Incurables, for six months, pending his election for admission. Presumably the money was raised and he was admitted to Royal Hospital for Incurables, where he died on 15th April 1870, twenty-two months after his accident. His widow was granted £5 for funeral expenses, the burial being in Isleworth. His effects, “under £100,” were left to his wife.

The Royal Hospital for Incurables (RHI) was founded by Andrew Reed, DD, in 1854. The RHI was thus the pioneer in modern times of long stay institutions for the sick and dying. It became one of the great Victorian charities, and remained independent of the National Health Service. Originally the long stay patients suffered from a multiplicity of diseases; in recent years chronic neurological disease dominate. The institution has also become a major centre for genetic and trauma-associated neurological damage, and rehabilitation.

The spacious old mansion in the Richmond Road, long known by the name of Putney School, owing to its having been for generations used as a school, was originally a country residence of the Duke of Hamilton. Here also General Fairfax resided for the space of nine months, during which period he was frequently visited by Cromwell. It is also said that the house was at one time the residence of the notorious Duchess of Portsmouth. This building, which is now called Putney House, was for a short time the Hospital for Incurables, previous to its transfer to Putney Heath. It is now known as the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability and situated on West Hill, Putney.


RAIL 529/132/714 Folio 144, Staff register.

RAIL 529/23, 17 Jun 1869, Board Min 1114.

RAIL 529/43, 30 Jun 1868, Loco Com Min 473; 29 Dec 1868, Min 586; 2 Mar 1869, Min 638; 30 Mar 1869, Min 658; 4 May 1869, Min 687; 1 Jun 1869, Loco Com Min 716; 29 Jun 1869, Loco Com Min 733.

RAIL 529/44 3 May 1870, Loco Com Min 944.

RG 9/690, folio 40, page 6, 1861 Census.

Birth and baptism, Ancestry records. [Sep qtr 1842: Brentford, 3, 20].

Marriage Guildhall P91/LEN/A/01/Ms 7498/75. [Dec qtr 1863: Shoreditch, 1c, 534].

Death [Jun qtr 1870: Wandsworth, 1d, 331].

Wills, 1870, page 397.

Leave a Reply