William Wright was born in England in 1809. It is not clear exactly when he immigrated to Canada in the 19th century and whether or not he was in Upper Canada for long before he entered the Poorhouse. In 1881, he was living in North Brant in South Dumfries and working as a servant for two families, one was an elderly couple and the husband was working as a physician and the other was a young family with two children and the husband was a medical student. A few years later he was committed to the House of Industry by the Inspector, Israel D. Bowman, for intemperance on January 17, 1883.

William entered the House as a paying patient. Most of the inmates who were at the House as “paying patients” and being paid for by their own counties were charged $2.00 per week in the early 1880s. However, William allegedly was causing a lot of trouble at the House and the Keeper, Peter Itter, decided to have William’s county pay $2.50 for him.


2nd April          [188]3

Township of South Dumfries (D Baptie Esq Clerk)

St. George –


[Hurim] Van Every

25th Septr ’82  2nd March ‘83

26                                2.00                             52.00

“ “for J. Hudson 24th Oct. 82

to 24 Jany ’83 – 13 weeks @ $2.00                26.00

“ “ William Wright from 17th Jany 83

to 17th April ’83 -13 weeks @ $2 ½               32.50


Wright in a very troublesome Customer hence additional charge

Keeper wishes to have it made $3.00

Please remit & oblige

Yours truly

Israel D. Bowman



The Inspector of the House wrote to D. Baptie from South Dumfries again just a few days later to detail why holding William at the House is so troublesome:


6th April           [188]3

D. Baptie Esq.

Township Clerk

St George


D Sir

Yours of 4th inst to hand, Re Wright – the paying patient from your Township – the Keeper informs me that he causes a great deal of trouble – poor fellow having no – control of things generally is very filthy – his bed has to be cleaned every day – the Under Keeper says he would sooner wait on any 12 men we have there than on the man Wright – they would gladly get rid of him – and if he were the only one from your Township we could not think of keeping him under say $4.00 This is what we sometimes get from these troublesome Customers

Yours truly

Israel D. Bowman       Inspr



The price to care for the inmate didn’t rise past $2.50 per week ($130.00/year). William only remained at the Poorhouse for just about 19 months before he died of old age on September 21, 1884. Israel D. Bowman wrote one final letter to the South Dumfries Clerk about William:


23rd Sept.         [188]4

  1. Baptie Esq

Township Clerk

St George


My dear Sir,

I have to inform you that William Wright one of the patients from your Township departed this life on Sunday last. The Keeper has interred the [sic] in the Cemetery on the Farm – should any friends of deceased desire it the body can be claimed and removed at any time – I enclose bill – Poor Mr. Hudson is getting rather “shaky on his pins” as the saying is but seems in tolerably good health –

Yours truly

Israel D. Bowman Inspr

23rd Septr         4

Township of South Dumfries (D Baptie Esq Clerk &c St George)


  1. Wright

4th May ’84      21st Sept 84 (date of death)

20                    2 ½                  50.00

Coffin & funeral                     6.00



He added in the coffin and funeral expenses which came out to be $6.00 total. He was one of the first inmates to be buried in the second cemetery.