The workhouse in Settle is thought to have looked after its inmates better than most, but the stigma of having to become an inmate was unacceptable to some. Henry Hayton felt he faced an impossible decision.
Henry was a son of John Hayton and his wife Ann. As was so common in the 19th century, Ann died at the birth of the next baby, Isabella, two years later, so Henry was brought up by his father.
John was a good, hardworking man who took advantage of the new technology and demand for books. In the early 19th century newspapers and books were still just for the rich, although Settle had a subscription library for those who could afford it.
John died when Henry was just 20, leaving him to face an uncertain world.
Henry’s elder siblings had already started on their own careers. His brother William stayed in Settle and worked as a plumber.
His father had ensured that Henry had an education and an apprenticeship with tailor John Snell, whose shop was on the corner opposite The Folly. Henry then moved to Barrow-in-Furness to work as a tailor. Unfortunately, his eyesight failed to the extent that he couldn’t work and he returned to Settle. The sad reality was that if you were unable to work you had no income and Henry couldn’t cope with this. He ended his own life in 1897, rather than enter the workhouse. The newspaper report on his death read:
‘The deceased was found hanging from a beam in an outhouse adjoining the Royal Oak Hotel on the previous evening. William Hayton, plumber said the deceased was his brother. He said prior to coming to Settle he had been staying at Liverpool and had been out of work for 15 weeks. His eyesight had failed, so that he could not follow his trade, and he had come to the place where he was bred and hoped to end his days here. He seemed very depressed … The jury returned a verdict of ‘suicide by hanging whilst in an unsound state of mind’. This is the fifth suicide which has been committed in this district within a comparatively short period of time.’