Charlotte Matilda Blake Thornley the mother of Bram Stoker, was also a charity worker and social reform activist.
She was born in Sligo town in 1818 to Matilda Blake and Lieutenant Thomas Thornley of Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. The family lived near Old Market Street, Sligo near where the Old Courthouse stands now.
In 1832, they bore witness to the horrors of the Asiatic Cholera Pandemic which caused more death in Sligo than anywhere else in the country. Merchants, shopkeepers, and medical men ... all fell prey to this rapid disease which caused death in a matter of hours. Charlotte witnessed frightening scenes and heard stories about people she had known succumbing to the disease and being buried alive. In her journals she recalled witnessing one victim being pushed by others into a makeshift grave using long wooden poles – he was ill but not yet dead. Terror, panic, and confusion spread and those who tried to evacuate the town were refused entry by their neighbouring towns who feared contagion. Charlotte’s family evacuated to Ballyshannon where they were received by relatives. Upon their arrival, they were surrounded by a mob refusing entry to the ‘diseased from Sligo’. When the Cholera epidemic was over, they returned to Sligo.*
Circa 1840, she married Abraham Stoker Sr. from Coleraine, who worked as an official in Dublin Castle and had seven children.
Charlotte died in Dublin in 1901. Her internment was either in Dublin's Mount Jerome Cemetery, or her family plot in the cemetery of St John's Cathedral in Sligo.
*Charlotte's recollections of the horrors of the Cholera outbreak greatly influenced the novel "Dracula" written by Bram Stoker. Here they are in her own words, read by her descendant Dacre Stoker
My grandmother was born in Dublin in 1873. Her father, Philip Fogarty (b.1828), was a Clerk in the courts of Dublin Castle as was his father before him. Both Bram Stoker and his father Abraham Stoker, Sr. would have been Clerks there at the same time as my great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather. It is quite likely they knew each other. Bram Stoker’s first book, The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, a handbook in legal administration, was published in 1879.
Saturday 24th September 2022 09:02PM
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