Bothwell Lunatic Asylum

On the morning of Tuesday, the 30th may 1870, about half-past six o’clock, William Hamilton, a labourer, residing in Almada Street, was suffocated in a well, which he was engaged in sinking, at the new Lunatic Asylum in process of erection at Bothwell.

By Saturday evening the shaft had been sunk to a depth of 57 feet, and it was then covered till following Monday. In the early morning the deceased man was being lowered by a windlass into the well, when, before reaching the bottom, he shouted to the men to stop.

They did so and asked him what he wanted. Receiving no answer, they immediately reversed the windlass and drew him up. They then found that William Hamilton, who, in descending, had been clinging to the ropes with his foot in a kind of stirrup, was now hanging with his head downwards and was found to be quite dead.

Drs. Fairless and Stuart were immediately brought to the spot, but their services were quite unavailing. It is supposed that death resulted from suffocation by the foul air accumulated in the well.

Back in 1870 the health and safety of workers wasn’t put before profit and deaths happened all too often. The story of William’s death is lost in the mists of time and to keep his memory alive, I wanted to find out who he was.

He was born on the 24th of March 1816 at Hamilton and baptised on the 6th of July in the same year. His father was called William Hamilton, who was a local Grocer and his mum was called Sarah Torrance.

He married another Hamilton lady who was called Mary Steven on the 1st of May 1836. William was a gardener who employed 3 men and 1 boy. I last found trace of William on the 1861 census, where he was living at 1 Almada Street, where he was living with his wife and his mother in law.

During my research I also found no evidence of William & Mary to have had any children. His wife Mary lived to the age of 76.

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