Author Topic: Declared insane  (Read 1199 times)

Offline lfm

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Declared insane
« on: Sunday 28 November 10 04:08 GMT (UK) »
Wondering if anyone can help with information on mental health in the 1900s in Scotland. I have a relative that was declared "insane" by the Perth Sheriff in the 1900s, and was locked up for the next 30 years. What was classified as "insanity" in those days? And would any record of such a declaration still exist? Is this something local newspapers might have reported or were these things kept hush-hush?

I've managed to access some of my relatives later case records from one of the asylums they were in, which made for very interesting reading, however there doesn't seem to be any proper diagnosis or attempt at rehabilitation. Was this usual in those days? The particular asylums my relative was in were the Murray Royal in Perth, Murthly Asylum in Perthshire, Hartwood Asylum near Shotts and Dykebar Asylum near Paisley. If anyone has further information, I would be very much interested.

Offline ScottishAncestry

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Re: Declared insane
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 28 November 10 16:19 GMT (UK) »
From 1857 “Lunatic” asylums (such a lovely name) where regulated by the General Board of Commissioners in Lunacy. The boards records are preserved in the NAS and are closed for 100 years (this has recently been extended from 75 years). Some records exist for people admitted prior to 1857 but it is most complete post 1857.

The NAS reference starts MC7. MC7/10 is 1899-1902. They are held at Thomas Thomson house and need to be ordered into West Register house, although they are closing West Register House to the public so always phone or email them in plenty of time to ensure you will be able on the view the records. (NAS catalogue

I have looked at these a few months ago, sadly the records I needed had very little information however others where quite interesting and had a lot more information.

As for the more general question of insanity and lunacy I have found the entries in the Harmsworth encyclopaedia quite helpful. The Victorians, in there own way, tried to categorise people however as regards helping them it does not seem much rehabilitation was done. I wrote about it in my blog and posted images from the encyclopaedia to help explain what was going on in the Victorian mind. Here’s what I wrote: