Saturday, December 24, 2011

Xmas Challenge: The Lunatics at Harpenden Hall 1851-1901 (and the modern mentally ill at Xmas)

For the Mentally Ill in Hertfordshire
In the Christmas "Competition" I pointed out that nothing was know about the mentally ill patients at Harpenden Hall, except for the often incomplete entries in the census returns. (See Early Mad Houses of St Albans and Harpenden). The results were very satisfactory  - See The Patients at Harpenden Hall, Harpenden, 1851-1901 - thanks very much to the efforts of Anthony - who came up with certain and possible identifications for 14 patients - while I added one who was only identified on the census by the initials M.A.S.
      Two had been cared for by the Rumball family for at least 40 years and all would appear to have come from well-to-do families. It very much illustrated the point that mental illness can strike anywhere, and if you had enough money there were homes where you could be looked after in a civilized manner for a fee. I am sure that the residents of Harpenden Hall had an enjoyable time at Christmas.
     As a result of the challenge I have made a donation of £50 to The Herts Mind Network which we found so helpful when first Lucy died, followed fifteen years later by Belinda. This donation brought the total to £847 (+ £40 sent separately) which means the site collection has only £113 to go to reach the £1000 target for 2011, but only a week to do it.
     So if you haven't already done so there is still time to make a  donation - which is particularly relevant at Christmas time. Many of the modern mentally ill live on their own and have, because of their illness, lost contacts with family and friends. Some may not even get a Christmas card - much less a roast turkey or a tree with presents round the base. In addition there will be many families which be aware of the empty chair at the Christmas feast. And if you have found the site useful don't forget to put a present "under the Christmas Tree" for the mentally ill in Hertfordshire.

1 comment:

  1. Gary Moyle, Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) emailed a comment:

    "Further to Harpenden Hall competition, I'm currently working on the madhouses of Hertfordshire including Harpenden for a chapter in a book. Apart from the census there are Quarter Sessions and TNA sources detailing patients, more than you have so far listed (I have info on Calvert, Thompson, Clarke, Manby, Charrington, Collett,Pattison, Badger, Bare, Debary, Johnson, Lawson at least). The work is currently ongoing! There's also info on the earlier St Albans incarnation of the Rumballs' institution. I think I know of 7 private asylums in Herts now."

    I forwarded it to Antony who replied:

    "This certainly helps to solve D.M.

    Mary Debary was born 4 January 1766 at Hurstbourne Tarrant and died 8 October 1854 aged 89. She is commemorated on a memorial at St Peter’s Church where her father was vicar and through his marriage to Ann Hayward lord of the manor at Weston Hall. There were in addition 3 daughters and a son. The family was acquainted with Jane Austen and is mentioned in her letters to Cassandra. Mary’s death may have been recorded as Debory as there is a record from Epsom that matches the date on her memorial.

    Bare is a fairly uncommon name so one that died at an asylum in Essex might turn out to be relevant:

    Gayford Manning Bare was born at Colchester about 1864 and died 24 June 1906 at the County Asylum, South Weald Essex (National Probate Calender); he was buried in the County Asylum Cemetery on 29 June 1906 (SEAX). In 1871 he was at the District Infant Orphan Asylum at Wanstead; in 1881 with his aunt Agnes Bare at Bromley, in 1891 he was a lodger in Bromley and in 1901 a boarder at The Homestead, Hadleigh, Essex, which was run by The Salvation Army. In 1894 he married Emma Southgate or Wickenden at Bromley but in 1901 she was enumerated separately at Mill Cottage, Downe, Kent.

    By the way, Tilda Swinton, a most talented actress, is from the same clan as EWGS."

    These comments have been added to the main page.


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