Lydia was born in Norfolk, England in 1863 to father, James Stockley (1830-1898), and mother, Jane Adams (1832-1872). Lydia was the middle child to two older brothers, William Ernest Henry (1852-1926) and James William (1860-1935), and two younger sisters, Fanny (1866-) and Emma (1869-1875). The family of seven immigrated to Canada in 1870 on board the ship, Ganges, during a 32-day trip. They settled in Galt, Ontario where James and Jane gave birth to another child, Charles (1870-). Out of the six children, only two children were attending school in 1871 while the youngest were not of age, Ernest was working as a farmer, and Lydia was most likely helping with household chores or working as a domestic in another home. There was another young woman living with the Stockley family in 1871, Sarah Lavander (1850-), who came over to Canada with the family.
Lydia’s mother died of dropsy from heart disease in 1872. A year later, James remarried and Emma was sent to the Poorhouse at four years old on August 2, 1873. Her cause of pauperism was listed as “crippled” and she was at the House alone for several months until she was discharged on October 7, 1873. She died just two years later on August 3, 1875 from a disease of the spine.
At some point in the early 1870s, Lydia moved in with a family, William and Annie Smith and their five children, in Galt, Ontario. She was 18 years old at the time and working as a servant for the family. Lydia became pregnant in early 1883 and was at this point admitted to the Poorhouse on March 19th of that year. She gave birth to her son, William (inmate #989), on January 2, 1884. He died just a few days later of infantile debility.
Lydia remained at the House until she was discharged on August 21, 1892. She is the first recorded inmate to receive a wage for working within the House. She is listed as receiving $2.00 for her work as a hospital waiter in 1888.
Lydia became pregnant with her second child while she was in the House in 1889. She gave birth to Maledina Gilbert Stockley (inmate #1243) on June 2, 1890. It is unclear as to who the father is, although there is a Henry Gilbert who is working on the farm at the Poorhouse a year before Maledina is born. The child is sent out on trial on October 17, 1890.
Lydia returned to the Poorhouse four years later on June 11, 1896, being pregnant for the third time. She gave birth to Frederick (inmate #1536) on September 18, 1896.
Lydia’s father, James, died of asthma in 1898 and Lydia was given $0.40 on March 10 for a ticket to Galt to see her father before he died on April 16. Lydia was given another $0.40 to return to the House on May 17. Lydia took her son, Frederick, with her to meet his grandfather and the rest of her family that was still in Galt. Frederick was sent to the Berlin Orphanage on December 3, 1898 as the Keeper of the House was unable to find someone to adopt the child.
House of Industry
Aug. 26th 1898
- Moved by Mr Moore, sec by Mr. Phin
That the Chairman have arrangements made to have Charles Rellinger, the infant child of Annie Woelflie, sent to the Orphanage at Berlin and also have an adult put in Berlin paper to try and get somebody to adopt Fred. Stockley son of Lydia Stockley, an inmate.
House of Industry
Berlin Dec. 2/98
- Moved by Mr. Kribs sec by Mr. Moore
That the child Fred. Stockley be sent to the Berlin Orphanage until bound out, at 80c per week.
There is little knowledge of where Frederick lived as a young boy, but he was drafted into the army a few days before his 19th birthday in 1915. He was sent overseas with the Expeditionary Force.
It is unclear as to what happened to him after that and whether he died overseas during the war or if he made it home.
Lydia continued to live in the Poorhouse, working as a hospital servant and being paid for her work. In April 1917, Lydia received a grant for nursing at the House for $10.00.
House of Refuge
November 30th 1916
Moved by Mayor Edwards, sec. by Warden Snider
That Lydia Steckley be paid the sum of ten dollars $1000 for waiting on Mrs. Henderson.
She remained at the House until her death on March 4, 1934. She died in a diabetes coma.