Garlands 1906

Garlands 1906

Monday, 23 February 2015

Notable cases

During my research I have come across some notable patients which have stood out to me for a number of different reasons. The names of the patients have been limited to their last name and their first initial, just in case their relatives do not want their full details released and to be the subject of a public blog. I hope you find these cases as interesting as I have.

Young Patients
When talking about 'young' patients I am referring to those under 16 who were admitted to the Garlands Hospital. Cases of insane patients under this age are of interest to the historian because their admission to the asylum was not a typical occurrence. The lunacy Act of 1845 did not give any guidelines for the treatment of mentally ill children. Many were kept at home under the care of family, or, wealth permitting, they were sent to private madhouses for idiot children at a considerable cost. In some instances children were sent to asylums when their behaviour got out of control, to the point where families could not care for them anymore. 

The youngest male patient I could find was S. Gate admitted in November 1902 aged twelve. He was admitted due to his frequent violent behaviour which began three years previous. He also suffered from epileptic fits which the family struggled to cope with. It is believed that his imbecility was caused by a 'fall from a horse three years ago causing injury to the head'. However, his case notes also suggest that insanity ran in the family as it was present on his fathers side.

On admission he was remarked as being impatient and restless and that his 'intelligence is of low order'. In his case notes there is a side note that his head had been operated on in March 1902 by a professor in Edinburgh, but he found nothing he could do for his benefit.

In the first few months of admission Gate was extremely troublesome. He annoyed other patients and stole from them. His frequent fits were hard to manage. However, from 3 June 1903 his behaviour began to improve. The doctors noted that his fits had ceased and that he was 'not as troublesome'. They also stated how he had began to join the male patients who were employed in jobs around the asylum. This behaviour continued, although some instances of Gate being 'quarrelsome' were noted, his overall demeanour had dramatically improved, and he was discharged to the care of his family on 15 May 1904. (THOS/8/4/39/5, Male casebook 1900-1903)

Gate's violent behaviour must've been curtailed by his asylum stay because on the 1911 census he was listed as living with his parents and siblings and he was employed by his father on his farm. What is interesting is that he is not listed as being a lunatic, idiot or imbecile, which proves that his condition must be behind him.

The youngest female patient I could find was E. W. Penn admitted April 1903 aged fourteen. Different from Gate, Penn's mental illness was attributed to a 'congenital defect', in other words she had been an imbecile since birth. She was admitted because her violent behaviour had become too difficult to manage, and Maryport magistrates had ruled that she should be sent to the asylum. It is noted in the casebook that her mother also suffered from mental illness, thus, her incarceration could've been the father admitting that he could not cope with two mentally ill relatives. (THOS/8/4/40/6)

Prior to her admission into the garlands Hospital, Penn had been in the Royal Lancaster Asylum for two years nine months. A clear indication that her condition had been present for a long time and was not improving, therefore she would've fallen into the category of 'chronic' patients who were unlikely to get better.

Her behaviour at Garlands was very violent and she frequently had to be sedated to calm her down. She was unable to speak coherently and could only utter very few single words. However, she was able to tell doctors that she came from Carlisle and that she was ten years old - both facts were completely wrong. Doctors at Garlands diagnosed her as suffering from imbecility. 

During her time at Garlands she remained troublesome but seemed to become much quieter as the years passed. Doctors noted how she began to show 'no vitality', and after a six month illness, Penn died of TB on 11 March 1908 aged just nineteen. (THOS/8/4/40/6)

Criminal Patients

Throughout the history of Garlands, criminal patients have been admitted to the asylum, transferred from various county gaols and houses of correction. Some of these patients were insane before their convictions, and some were driven to insanity by their incarceration in gaol. As the Garlands Hospital was an institution built for pauper patients, the types of crimes these criminals were convicted of were typical of the destitute poor. Such crimes as begging, vagrancy, stealing, prostitution, intemperance and assault. 

An example of a 'typical' criminal pauper patient is J. McGreavy. He was admitted to the asylum on 26 April 1892 diagnosed with dementia caused by 'drink'. He was convicted of being drunk and disorderly on 13 April 1892 at Workington Petty Sessions and sentenced to 14 days hard labour at Carlisle gaol. He was transferred to the asylum at the end of his sentence when it became clear to the gaol overseers that he was of unsound mind. (Criminal Patients Reception Orders, THOS 8/4/18/7 1886-1895)

McGreavy was a 35 year old married engine fitter from Workington with 5 children. His problem with drink had led to his mental instability, and ultimately to his incarceration to the asylum. On admission to Garlands Hospital his behaviour was noted as 'very excited and violent' and he was diagnosed with dementia. The medical attendants observed that he was very confused and that his memory of recent events was poor. He knew he had been in Carlisle Gaol, but did not know why he had been sent there. With his memory still lacking, but his mental state being 'much brighter', McGreavy was discharged as recovered after a short stay at the asylum on 8 June 1892. (Male Casebook 1891-1893, THOS 8/4/39/2)

A completely out of the ordinary case came to light when researching the criminal patients of the Garlands Asylum. Mrs E. Bushby was admitted to the asylum on 7 February 1890 aged 47 from Carlisle Gaol. Her crime had been committed thirteen years previous and she had also been in Broadmoor criminal lunatic asylum. She had been convicted of child murder. Bushby had 'drowned her youngest child when it was 9 months old'. Clearly the worst crime imaginable, but the cause stated for her insanity was cited as 'jealousy'. This leaves us with a lot of questions as to how jealousy could drive a person to murder their own child. Bushby had two living children and a husband who lived in Egremont. The stigma attached to having a mother and wife who had murdered a young child must've have been huge, and would have effected their lives greatly. (Criminal Reception Orders, 1886-1895, THOS 8/4/18/7)

Private Patients
A notable private patient I have come across in my research is Mrs A. Little. Private patients were charged more than pauper patients and were responsible for covering these costs themselves, thus these patients often came from wealthy families. Unmarkable in her admission, it was her death in the asylum which attracted my attention. She was admitted 30 April 1896, aged 45, the wife of a doctor from Maryport. Her insanity was caused by an addiction to 'alcohol and morphine' and she had previously been in the 'Royal Institution' private madhouse since 1894. Her addictions had caused her to become delusional and she believed her 'servants were plundering her'.  SHe remained in the Garlands Hospital until her death on 19 December 1917. Her husband had died before her leaving her a widow, thus leaving his assets to her. Therefore on her death, the national probate calendar lists her as leaving £3392 2s 6d to her 'spinster' daughter M. Little. This sum equates to around £146,064.90 in today's money. A. Little was definitely one of the most - if not the most - wealthy patients to have been in the Garlands Hospital. (Female Casebook 1895-1899, THOS 8/4/40/5)

This blog is a small part of my ongoing PhD research into the Garlands Hospital. I am attempting to write the asylum's history as it is one currently unwritten.

Any stories you may have about the history of the Garlands Hospital, Carlisle, please use the comment box to share them. I would love to learn as much as possible about this undiscovered institution.


  1. Just came across your blog whilst doing some nostalgic surfing about Garlands Hospital, I worked there and in allied places for over 30 years. Looking forward to reading more posts, it would be brilliant to have a proper history of the hospital.

  2. Thank you for reading my blog Sue. I am so fascinated by the hospital and the evolution of ideas about treating the mentally ill. More posts coming soon. Any stories you would like to share don't hesitate to contact me on - these will not appear in my PhD as I am focussing on the Victorian era of the hospital. Hearing more recent accounts are purely for my own interest.