Printer Friendly
The Free Library
23,375,127 articles and books

Poor relief and the dangerous and criminal insane in Scotland, c. 1740-1840.

Nearly a century ago in Religion and the rise of capitalism, R. H. Tawney opined: "there is no touchstone ... which reveals the true character of a social philosophy more clearly than the spirit in which it regards the misfortunes of those of its members who fall by the way." (1) Historians have not been slow to follow up the implications of this judgement, which originated in the eighteenth century with Samuel Johnson. Their writings on poor relief tend to conform to dichotomies and to value judgements of which Ta1wney (and perhaps Johnson) would have been proud: funding by rating or voluntary charity; deserving v. undeserving; family v. 'state' or home v. institutional care; 'generous' v. 'mean' provision; included or excluded paupers; givers v. receivers. This article questions conventional dichotomies by looking at one category, the pauper insane who presented a threat to themselves or others. The legal, financial and logistical problems of dealing with this group exemplify the complex and contingent moral and social relationships involved in poor relief, while at the same time illustrating wider developments in care. In some senses dangerous lunatics were an unusual component of the poor, notably in being expensive to care for, but they can also be seen as an unusually well-documented type of poor, from whose experience generalisations may be made about funding and provision, decision making and ideologies.

The modern historiography of Scottish poor relief from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century conventionally portrays it as an undeveloped version of the English system. (2) It takes one side in early-nineteenth-century debates, about the appropriate source and locus of poor relief, which condemned "the utter inadequacy of private benevolence." (3) It assumes that the lack of structured care based on rating--the foundation of the English model--equates to parsimony--a point which ignores not only the importance of voluntary giving in England, but also the alternative argument in the late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth century debates: that administrators of tax revenues lacked the incentive to economise and to target relief properly. (4) It sees moral simplification as the easiest way to contain expenditure, for as well as demonstrating entitlement and need, the poor had to conform to standards of passivity, malleability, predictability and gratitude. By focusing on limited entitlements and debates on disablement, historians of Scotland have studied exclusion more than provision. (5) As in England, contemporary debates and historical analyses have also centred on provision for the able-bodied poor (or its lack), whereas (except for the very late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries) the time and resources of practising administrators were concerned overwhelmingly with the impotent poor. (6)

This article provides a different emphasis on poor relief in Scotland through a study of a particular group of poor. Offering a general discussion illuminated by detailed case studies, its aim is to use dangerous insane paupers as a way of questioning conventional approaches. The article outlines change over time in the legal parameters governing pauper lunatics and particularly the changes in law and practice during the 1800s and 1810s, for the law both shaped and reflected attitudes to, and the implementation and locus of, relief. It argues that growing precision is a better way of conceptualising these changes than is simple exclusion. It seeks to demonstrate the strength of the commitment to caring for the insane as an element of the deserving poor and to show how a system apparently based more on casual charity than that of England could nevertheless be effective by blending sources of relief. Far from being morally a simple case, the dangerous insane occupied an ambiguous position between what are conventionally described as opposites. They demonstrate the problem of dichotomies in understanding poor relief. Finally, the article contributes to more than simply debates on the nature of Scottish poor relief, important as it is in being closer to Continental countries, which lacked the core of tax-funded relief found in England. It exemplifies a more general point to which historians are becoming alert: that a 'mixed economy of care' characterised all working systems of relief in Britain and Europe since the Middle Ages and that differences on paper (in statutes, court judgements and polemical debates) were greater than those in practice. (7)

Scottish Poor Relief

Royal Commissioners, who in 1857 published their report on lunatic asylums and the laws relating to them in Scotland, explained the connection between poverty and crime and lunacy. "As a general rule, dangerous lunatics belong to the lower ranks of people, and, if not already actually paupers, are so little above poverty, that by their illness they are speedily reduced to that condition." (8) In fact, those from wealthier families were kept out of sight (see below) and paupers were simply more visible. But before analysing what was meant by being dangerous, we need to understand the framework of relief into which those so labelled fitted. The conventional picture is that provision for most paupers was both exiguous and uncertain. Scottish public poor relief was dispensed on a personal and ad hoc basis, or it was administered piece-meal by parish 'Kirk Sessions' (like an English select vestry). (9) Comprising a minister, clerk, and lay elders, these bodies were the cornerstones of the church at parish level. In the royal burghs (towns) civic authorities were responsible for co-ordinating collection and disbursement (and for suppressing unlicensed begging), even if Kirk Sessions administered relief in practice until the nineteenth century. (10)

The first noteworthy feature of Scottish relief is the enduring hostility of those who paid towards relief, mostly local landowners in the countryside, to any form of rating to provide for the poor. 'Heritors' (landowners) had an equally deep-seated suspicion about how the Kirk Session would spend money--and the political clout to ensure their own vision of 'economy' prevailed--a situation not reached in England until 1834. Well-off rural Scots were prepared to pay towards the maintenance of the poor only provided their giving was voluntary and their control over its destination was clear. (11) With a more middling social composition, stronger religious imperatives and a firmer footing in the local community, Kirk Sessions had different priorities as patrons of relief. Resistance to rating was the principal reason for the failure of Lord Binning's 1818 Bill to establish county lunatic asylums in Scotland on the model allowed for in England by the 1808 Act (48 Geo. III, c. 96). (12) Yet the system was not entirely voluntary. Rating was allowed by an Act of 1579 (c. 74) and compulsory assessments had certainly been levied since the Restoration to deal with serious crises of subsistence. Rating was more routine in burghs, even if it was not always regular. (13)

The second distinctive feature of the Scottish poor-relief system was the relative absence of the idea that those who were physically able might not be capable of finding work. Scotland's was, we are told, "a less generous system of poor relief than in England"--an assertion made more often than it is proved. (14) Attempts were even made to deny the able-bodied poor access to poor relief from the late eighteenth century until the 1830s. David Monypenny quoted with approval a tendentious early-nineteenth-century "Dissertation on the Poor Laws" written by the Revd Dr Robert Burns of Paisley: "there is hardly such a thing as maintenance given, except in the cases of inmates of hospitals, or in the case of lunatics or blind, or absolutely impotent from defects corporeal or mental." (15) In most institutions and among those receiving out-relief (which was by far the most common type of aid), a degree of self-support through work was expected and required of recipients by administrators. However, as this article shows, those who were unable to shift for themselves were certainly cared for, including the 'fatuous' (idiotic or melancholic) or, its main concern, the 'furious' (lunatic or manic).

Third, out-relief was the norm. Some of the larger towns experimented with poorhouses, workhouses and houses of correction (the latter required by an Act of 1672), but there was none in the countryside and many fewer than existed in England. For example, Aberdeen had a House of Correction, though only for a few years in the mid-seventeenth century. This was emphatically a workhouse, to which lunatics and idiots were not admitted. A century later it erected a 'Poor's Hospital', set up at the same time as the Infirmary (1741). The Hospital functioned principally as an orphanage, since most adults received out-relief. (16) Other experiments were reversed. Musselburgh opened a workhouse in 1752, but sold it in 1781 because it was much cheaper to maintain the poor in their own homes. (17) In 1839 William Alison claimed there were only four workhouses in Scotland compared with 587 in England. (18) Indeed, the boarding out of idiots and imbeciles in particular remained more important than in England until well into the Victorian period. (19) Dangerous lunatics often required institutional care and they thus provide useful insights into the early development of madhouses and asylums.

Finally, there was little legislation passed specifically about the insane pauper in Scotland until the early nineteenth century. No special provision was made for the insane in any seventeenth-century English or Scottish Acts concerning poor relief. The English Acts of 1714 (12 Anne, c. 23) and 1744 (17 Geo. II, c. 5), which carried common law into the realm of statute by identifying the dangerously mad, did not apply to Scotland. (20) The famous Act passed after James Hadfield had attempted to murder King George III in 1800 did. (21) This codified existing practice in Scotland and England by allowing courts to send criminal lunatics charged with treason, murder or felony to a secure place until His Majesty's pleasure was known. "An act to amend an act passed in the thirty-ninth and fortieth year of the reign of his present majesty, for the safe custody of insane person charged with offences" (56 Geo. Ill, c. 117), which amended 39 and 40 Geo. III, c. 94, also applied to the whole of the United Kingdom. (22) Developments in case law continued to follow the different civil traditions of Scotland and England. (23)

Recent interpretations have questioned whether the contrasts between Scotland and England have been overdrawn. For example, there were more institutions in England, but the bulk of poor still received outdoor relief. (24) Collections held in church may have been 'voluntary', but there were expected levels of contribution from individual donors. (25) There were regional differences too. Some parts of Scotland were more 'English' than others in the prevalence of rating and some parts of England more 'Scottish' in resisting rating; relief was more often supplementary in the north of England than in the south; rights to relief were less firmly established in the north of England; clearly set out rights might be accompanied by onerous obligations. (26) Yet differences remain apparent. One enduring theme in historical commentary is the tight control that 'heritors' had over Scottish poor relief, notably after 1752, and the meanness of the provision that resulted. (27) Another is the different role of the parish in Scotland and England, which arose from the particular political circumstances of early-modern Scotland and which resulted in the marked localism of its poor relief administration. (28)

An exposition of the differences between Scotland and England is needed because the English case tends to dominate the historiography of British poor relief. Historians should, of course, continue to study national differences in politics, law and institutions, which were part of the different systems of relief, as well as the changing balances between the components--such as the different role of the parish in Scotland and England, the preference for out-relief in Scotland or the relative importance of varying legal frameworks in mediating provision. (29) However, there is also a case for looking at the practical operation of poor relief at a more local level and that is the line this article takes. For Peregrine Horden has encouraged us to consider "the common irrelevance of 'national' ideology ... and the importance of local economic and social conditions" to the everyday functioning of poor relief. (30)

The Dangerous Insane

One aspect of the conventional picture is that Scottish poor law administration was superficially simpler than English because the able bodied were not necessarily encompassed. "Those left as recipients of charity were the obviously deserving: the sick, the old and infirm, orphans and the mentally ill." (31) A component of what are usually called the deserving poor, the last category nevertheless had distinct elements, for some recipients were dangerous to others. The characteristics of this sub-set of paupers are neatly summarised by Maurice Lothian, procurator fiscal for the county of Edinburgh, who gave evidence in 1855 to the Royal Commission investigating provision for lunatics. They are "those cases where a party has been apprehended, charged with assault or some other offence inferring danger to the lieges [public]; or where any furious or fatuous person, being in a state threatening danger to the lieges, shall be found at large." (32) Sir Archibald Alison, Sheriff of Lanarkshire, explained the common law powers he possessed to deal with such people, who were "technically termed 'dangerous lunatics'." (33) "I think we may lay hold of dangerous lunatics without the statute, just as we would lay hold of a mad dog." (34) From the viewpoint of authorities, these people presented particular problems of both provision and police.

Throughout the early modern period anyone who posed an evident threat to 'the lieges' could, as Alison noted, be incarcerated by order of magistrates (though usually with the consent of their kin), even if they had not committed a prosecutable offence. (35) In contrast, most of the dangerous insane visible in historical documents were accused criminals or had been convicted of violent acts. The High Court of Justiciary (which sat in Edinburgh) and its Circuit Courts (the equivalent of English assizes) handled all insane convicts uncovered in this study. In cases where the sanity of the accused was questioned, the court sought to determine whether he or she was mentally fit to defend him or her self (the accused routinely had legal counsel in eighteenth and nineteenth century Scotland, even if poor). (36) If so, the next step was to investigate whether the Act mentioned in the charge had been committed by the accused. Finally, the court asked if the deed had been done with or without intent and thus whether its perpetrator could be punished normally or not at all. (37) The insane acted involuntarily, lacked 'dole' or intent and thus were not culpable.

Becoming dangerous made it more likely that insane individuals would cross from being a private worry to a public problem. Indeed, danger to others was the principal distinguishing feature of such people in the eyes of the law. The ways the Scottish 'system' dealt with a physically and morally challenging type of pauper demonstrates the shortcomings of conventional understandings of eighteenth and early-nineteenth century relief. For dangerous lunatics existed at the interstices of discourses on law, medicine, morality and poverty. They occupied a liminal position between the deserving and undeserving poor. In some regards they were a special category of pauper. First, nearly all documented dangerous insane paupers were males, whereas at least three-quarters of ordinary paupers were females. The males were adults in the prime of life who had no physical disabilities--quite the reverse in that they seemed to use considerable force indiscriminately and illegitimately. They were, in one sense, able-bodied people who show the over-simplification of distinguishing 'impotent' from 'impudent' poor. Second, they were never more than a small minority of all those classed as mentally disabled. An inquiry of 1816-17 revealed that there were 3,486 mentally incapable people in Scotland who were deemed to need care, of whom 622 (18%) were classified as 'furious' and thus potentially dangerous. (38) The early-nineteenth-century reformer, Sir Andrew Halliday of Manchester, reported that in a sample of 85 Scottish parishes (less than 10% of the total, but criteria for inclusion are not given), there were 137 people "who are in confinement as dangerous Lunatics," most of them "in the house of some friend or private person." (39) According to a survey of 1826, there were 648 individuals in Scotland's public and private asylums, and a mere 10 in its 'tolbooths' (gaols). (40)

Third, dangerous lunatics presented unique financial problems in their management. Placing someone in an asylum was not a cheap option, for sponsors (usually the parish) had to provide entrants with clothes, bedding, and other necessaries in addition to their considerable board and lodging costs. (41) In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century it was twice as costly to put someone in Bedlam as to keep them in an Edinburgh workhouse and four or five times more expensive to house them in an asylum than at in a domestic setting. Logistical difficulties existed too, for not only had they to be fed, clothed and sheltered, but also they had to be prevented from harming themselves and others. Landed gentry already had privacy and servants attending them in the normal course, meaning that the marginal cost of their care if they went mad was much less than the poor. Some were cared for in their own homes, others in specialist private or public madhouses (see below). Pauper insane can be found in the same settings, but they tied up family and/or paid non-family member(s) who would not normally have attended them, meaning there could be a substantial additional cost and/or an opportunity cost of their care. The cost of keeping a dangerous insane pauper was not just the same as what he would have needed himself when in good (mental) health, but much more. To medical treatment (though this tended to be rather brief for most sufferers and confined to heroic remedies such as bleeding and blistering or to palliatives such as opium) was added the effect of their destructiveness on clothing, furniture and the sometimes the fabric of buildings. These people are particularly visible because family and community found it difficult to deal adequately and discreetly with them. The only equivalent among the ordinary poor was the chronically sick who required constant care because they were immobile and ulcerated or incontinent. (42) Yet that very visibility makes the complex options for, constraints on and negotiations about care more easily identified by the historian, as does the wide range of sources in which the dangerous appear--other than simply the institutional ones that must often suffice scholars of poor relief.

Options for Care

Dealing with the dangerous insane who could not be tried or who were found guilty but insane was a knotty (and expensive) problem. They can be found in a variety of locations being provided for in different ways. Accused criminals were generally kept in gaols both before trial and immediately after conviction. Those men and women deemed mentally unfit to plead or, if found guilty and sane, to be punished, might suffer a similar fate. A separate and secure institution specifically for the insane was not available in Edinburgh until the 1740s (when the Bedlam was built) or at Aberdeen until the 1800s. Aberdeen Infirmary had six cells for lunatics, but these 'Bedlamites' were moved out of the main building in 1773 and in 1798 it was decided to separate them completely. (43) Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was completed in 1748 with 12 vaulted cells for 'lunatics', envisaged as those with enough means to support themselves. (44) It ceased to take in such people in 1789, though it may be that those who could pay fees were still admitted. (45) The same is true up to a point of Glasgow Town's Hospital's cells, which housed lunatics in the early 1800s, but gradually ceased to do so after Glasgow Asylum opened in 1814. (46)

These were the possible destinations, but none was prescribed until the nineteenth century. It was confirmed in 1815 that judges could only commit a lunatic to gaol or to the care of his 'friends'. (47) Sometimes judges ordered people to be confined in gaol until relatives found surety to restrain them elsewhere, for kin were responsible for such people in the first and last instance. (48) In the 1800s and beyond, the criminal insane might be sent straight to the Edinburgh Bedlam or one of the public asylums, which took paupers (for such convicted felons often were), rather than languishing in a gaol.

However, it was agreement over funding that turned asylums into a de facto destination for such people before this was established de jure. (49) Sending the criminal insane to an institution to be cared for 'in loco amicorum' (so to speak) became increasingly routine in the early nineteenth century. The Sheriff-Depute's report on Aberdeen Asylum (1816) noted how: "The court of justiciary have been of late years in the practice of ordering lunatic convicts to be confined for life." (50) That the Justiciary Court had no legal right to order the committal of convict lunatics to public madhouses is shown when an attempt by the Northern Circuit Justiciary Court at Aberdeen to do this in 1815 was successfully resisted by the managers of the asylum there. (51) This produced the 1816 Act (56 Geo. Ill, c. 117) that allowed the Secretary of State to commit the criminal insane to "such lunatic asylum or other proper receptacle for insane persons" as he saw fit, subject to the certification of two physicians or surgeons. (52) The Aberdeen managers' initial reluctance to take a convict so condemned into the Infirmary was assuaged by reassurances about funding of the criminal insane pauper. After 1816 the process became routine. (53) Even without formal legislation, there was a growing precision and uniformity in Scottish poor relief that came out of practise and the decisions of the civil and criminal courts.

In short, pauper criminal lunatics who were deemed to be a hazard to the lieges and whose families could not care for them (or who had no kin) were imprisoned or, from the mid-1810s onwards, sent routinely to one of the major public madhouses then opening up. (54) Publicly funded or subsidised institutional care was increasingly accepted and even expected for potentially or actually violent mad people. However, this was principally a change in the locus of care. The commitment of 'public' or communal bodies like the Kirk Sessions to providing for such a morally, physically and financially challenging section of the poor had a much longer lineage. (55)

Any lacunae in legal provision were attributable not to confusion between mad and bad, but to a failure to specify whether the insane should be classed with one group or the other. However, both statute and case law were developing in this regard. In one prolonged and important case before the Court of Session (Scotland's supreme civil court), intriguing issues were aired. For example, in one interpretation, any incarceration had to be punitive. (56) This was the line argued by the heritors of three parishes in Wigtonshire in the case of James Fisher, a miner and limekiln operator who also described himself as a former mariner (he is discussed further below). Fisher, they claimed, had been found guilty of theft and had been 'sentenced' to perpetual confinement, despite having no sense whatsoever that he was doing wrong. Thus, they claimed, it was the crown or its delegates, rather than the parish, which was responsible for his support. (57) The issue was, however, more financial than penal. During trial before a Justiciary Court (Fisher was so tried) and while awaiting sentence or removal, liability for a prisoner's care did indeed lie with the crown or (more usually) the royal burgh in whose gaol the person was housed. (58) If simply being cared for as a pauper or if confined as potentially dangerous by an inferior magistrate, the responsibility was parochial. Procedures for dealing with paupers (settled and vagrant) were clear, as was the law on provision for criminals; responsibility for unfortunates who shared characteristics of both was not settled until the 1810s by cases such as Fisher's. (59)

The other important case concerning a pauper lunatic illustrates how asylums, courts, and parishes were seeking a surer financial and legal footing around this date. The man concerned was called 'Daft Jamie' or 'Anderson Reid' and he lived rough in and around Dalkeith, Midlothian, between 1816 and 1818. (60) Reid was apprehended and placed in Edinburgh's Bedlam by order of the Sheriff of Midlothian, with the undertaking to the managers of the Charity Workhouse that he would pay for Reid until the parish stepped in. This pauper lunatic had required incarceration, but, without a general county rate, there were no funds to pay for him other than those of Edinburgh city. (61) It was decided that the parish where a lunatic was apprehended (Newbattle in this case) was initially liable for his maintenance (at Edinburgh's Bedlam in this case). However, the parish was entitled to place Reid elsewhere if they could find a cheaper solution, provided he was secured to the Sheriff's satisfaction. The Sheriff successfully pursued Newbattle for recompense. In turn, Newbattle appealed and also sued its neighbouring parish of Dalkeith "because the lunatic had chiefly resided there." The Sheriff lost the appeal before the Court of Session on the grounds that the lunatic did not have a settlement in either parish and that the Sheriff should have determined which parish was liable for Reid's 'aliment' (maintenance) and how much they would pay before agreeing with the Bedlam. The Sheriff's role was as an adjudicator rather than an instigator, a facilitator rather than a fixer of rates. (62) The principle was established that the burden of support was ultimately parochial, but only provided proper procedures were followed when deciding on a destination for the pauper lunatic. The needs of police had to be balanced with the rights of parishes. The role of regional officials such as Sheriffs was never strong in Scotland and was quite different from England, where the Justices of the Peace's main part was to support applicants' rights. (63)

There was nothing new in the spat between parishes about settlement. Acts of the Scottish Parliament had established rights to poor relief based on settlement in 1649, 1663 and 1672. Settlement remained central to provision for pauper lunatics, the principle prevailing that a man was "entitled to be supported by the parish to which he belonged--a right which his frenzy could not relax or weaken." (64) However, the basis of settlement might be disputed. An idiot who was unable to act for him or her self--even one aged 14 years or above--could be treated as a pupil (a legal minor), "if it necessarily remains a member of the parents' family, unemancipated, from imbecility or bodily weakness" and could thus have difficulty obtaining a settlement in his or her own right. (65)

Once financial responsibility had been established, a locus of care had to be found. As noted above, public asylums were increasingly an option. Yet, before and after asylums became available not all institutions would accept the dangerous patient. All workhouses or poorhouses accommodated harmless idiots and imbeciles, but only some accepted lunatics and most tried to move them to an asylum (if one was available) if they became violent. (66) The policies of non-specialist institutions fluctuated according to demand for places, available funds, the sufferer's behaviour, and the source of the admission petition. The development of care in Paisley, a rapidly growing industrial town west of Glasgow, is instructive. Paisley Town's Hospital planned cells for lunatics from 1767, but for years afterwards at least some of the cubicles were rented out as storage space for town businesses. (67) Nevertheless, opinion was changing and the managers saw the need "for erecting a proper house for mad persons so that they may be under proper management which is every day becoming more necessary from the great increase of the inhabitants of the town." They ordered a straitjacket in June 1796. By 1797-8 they were admitting deranged people and must, presumably, have created the necessary facilities, at least for the most pressing cases or for those whose relatives agreed to help with their care. (68) Paisley Town's Hospital is an interesting example of the way a rapidly growing community tackled lunacy principally through use of a (small) generalist institution and out-relief. There was clear recognition of the inappropriate nature of poorhouse accommodation for the deranged, for these housed the docile, not the dangerous. It took in lunatics strictly as a short-term measure and it made no commitment to their regular reception or prolonged care. Paisley Town's Hospital is a reminder that most of the few public institutions in Scotland took in only small numbers of dangerous insane paupers--if they accommodated any at all.

Idiots and imbeciles were accepted into poorhouses (like Town's Hospitals) if they were tractable and docile, while the dangerous or disruptive insane were excluded unless separate accommodation was available. Between the 1670s and 1740s the dangerous insane tried by criminal courts in Edinburgh might be sent to the House of Correction. (69) From the 1740s Edinburgh's Bedlam was such a repository and in June 1768 the newly opened St Cuthbert's Charity Workhouse (Edinburgh) asked for donations "towards the building of a house for people deprived of their reason." (70) In contrast, Canongate Charity Workhouse (opened 1762) never accepted people of unsound mind, and periodically reiterated this policy. (71) As noted above, Scotland had very few Houses of Correction compared with England. (72) Most of the few licensed private asylums of early-nineteenth-century Scotland catered for the better off, though the larger ones were for paupers. (73) Again, this contrasts with England, where private madhouses accommodating the poor were an important part of provision. (74) Most Scottish assistance for paupers was out-relief.

Nineteenth-century commentators bemoaned the presence of lunatics 'at large' in the community. (75) One medical witness to the Royal Commission on the Poor Law (published in 1844) spoke thus. "They are left as long as they can possibly be, at large, wandering about through the country, and, when they become dangerous, they are tied with ropes, chained, handcuffed, confined in outhouses, or in some house apart from others, and occasionally in some of the cottars' houses." (76) For such commentators, specialist institutions providing long-term care were the only way to treat lunatics. However, the asylum was a permeable institution, which some people left and re- entered. The same was true of poorhouses and workhouses, for receiving formal relief was just part of a spectrum of subsistence strategies resorted to according to need and contingencies. Exclusion from an institution did not mean abandonment. Importantly, there was no 'hierarchy of resort' for the dangerous insane: different forms of care were chosen according to context and condition. (77)

Self-help was one option, and there are examples of peaceable idiots and imbeciles who worked on the roads, traded agricultural produce, erected walls or delivered goods. (78) Cheap to care for as they contributed to their own upkeep, these 'simple-minded' paupers posed no threat to 'the lieges' and were effectively integrated into society. (79) Indeed, not all pauper lunatics were dangerous and those who were did not menace all of the time. Some whose behaviour was normally pacific could be tolerated for years until their ability to cope was altered because: their behaviour changed for the worse; there intervened a circumstance such as the arrival of newcomers into an area or a desire formally to prosecute in order to fix responsibility for care; or the attitudes of local or national governors towards poverty and order shifted. Changes toward violence in the behaviour of a mentally troubled person could alter their treatment, but contingencies other than their insanity also determined how they were handled. For example, Anderson Reid (above) had "infested the parish of Dalkeith" for two years during the 1810s, sleeping in barns and outhouses, and living on charity. Then he upset a laird (landowner) called James Ker of Blackshiels, who feared that his family was threatened and who thus had Reid apprehended by the magistrates. The latter prepared a petition to the Sheriff of Midlothian to incarcerate him for disturbing the peace. "He is now almost naked and completely over-run with disease and vermin; and when ordered to leave the premises of any particular person, where he may have taken up his residence, he threatens violence to those who do so." (80) Reid's behaviour may have changed, but it is also clear that he came to interact with someone who had different social priorities and tolerances.

Reid's case was one of two in the 1810s that drew attention to shortcomings in the law and which resulted in landmark court cases. The other is the case of James Fisher (discussed above in another context), whose mind became unsettled in 1806 and then in 1808 he became
 in a great measure deranged, and quite incapable of any serious
 business or work. He wandered through the country as a mendicant,
 being sometimes absent from his son's house for months, and when he
 did return remaining only for a short period ... One trait of Fisher's
 malady was a strong propensity to carry off whatever he could lay his
 hands on. This indeed does not always denote insanity, but the
 peculiarity of Fisher's case was that his abstraction of the property
 of others could scarcely be characterized as stealing. He did not
 commit the acts secretly, but in open day, and there seemed to be some
 persons after whose goods he had a particular hankering; but his
 depredations, if they may be so termed, were apparently committed
 without any consciousness of guilt or apprehension of danger; for, as
 he did not use violence, so he sometimes carried off effects in the
 very sight of the owners. (81)

At one level, Fisher was a harmless kleptomaniac, (82) who had lived in south-west Scotland for years before he was finally prosecuted before the Justiciary Court. However, his behaviour had changed. He had been imprisoned for three weeks prior to his first arrest for theft after being arrested for throwing a halberd at doors and carts in Whithorn. He later escaped from the gaol there by burning down the door of his cell. (83) Like 'Daft Jamie', Fisher was a persistent offender whose eventual criminal prosecution seems to have been as closely linked to local debates on poor relief as it was to his perceived criminality or level of threat to the lieges. Prior to his arrest for being dangerous and (ultimately) for repeated theft, magistrates had tried in 1813 to have Fisher expelled from Scotland for being a rogue and vagrant. (84) Financial exigencies and ideological debates were other contingencies that changed the care (and historical visibility) of the insane; changing demographic circumstances such as the death of a caregiver also altered care and conspicuousness.

It was certainly possible (if uncommon) for furious people and lunatic convicts to be detained in gaol for some time if friends did not appear to stand surety for their behaviour. Yet, even before reformers like Howard, Bentham and Paul there seems to have been general agreement that gaol was not the place for lunatics. (85) East Lothian Justices of the Peace (a layer of local government introduced into Scotland in 1609) complained in the early 1770s that putting lunatics in Haddington tolbooth was "turning the county gaol into a madhouse." (86) The removal of the 'nuisance' caused by mad people housed in the prison on the High Street of Montrose was an important rationalisation offered by Susan Carnegie in founding the Montrose Asylum. (87) Later reformers like Andrew Halliday continued to criticise the holding of the dangerous insane in gaols, (88) an opinion that became generally shared by Sheriffs and others in the first half of the nineteenth century. Prison was one part of the spectrum of available locations, but it was never apparently a preferred one in the period covered here.

Another single unfortunate illustrates the reality of the treatment of the criminal insane in a prison environment. He was John Philip, an Edinburgh 'writer' or legal clerk, imprisoned and tried for harassment and assault on the person and property of a society heiress called Anne Brodie. (89) On the last day of December 1776, Simon Fraser, the gaoler or 'keeper' of the tolbooth wrote to the city's bailies or magistrates, explaining that his charge
 has shown many symptoms of lunacy and it is the opinion of every
 person who has opportunity to see him there that he is deprived of the
 use of his reason. That in particular on Sunday night the said John
 Philip was seized with a fit of lunacy and broke and destroyed the
 whole glass lozens [panes] in the apartment where he was confined in
 prison and otherwise alarmed the people residing in the vicinity of
 the prison, which made it necessary ... to remove him to and confine
 him in a cage in another place of the prison. That since he has been
 confined in the cage he has become more furious, having divested
 himself of all clothes which with his bed coverings he has tore and
 thrown out of a small window in the cage and he has also broke or
 destroyed several jacks [toilets] that were put there for his
 conveniency and he is now in a most pitiful situation, naked and
 dirty. That he is now become a very unfit object for punishment or
 any trial and it is absolutely necessary he be removed to one of the
 cells in Bedlam, a place more proper for one in his situation and
 where he will have more chance for recovery. (90)

The gaoler's petition of December 1776 seems to have fallen on deaf ears, even if the Justiciary Court did provide two men to watch over Philip day and night until his trial. Philip's mental state deteriorated further in prison after the trial ended. On 6 March 1777 his brother William again petitioned to have him moved to a Bedlam cell, "where quiet, privacy, and proper care may give the unfortunate sufferer a chance of recovering his distracted senses, of becoming again an object of trial ... and of being again restored to his friends and to society." The petition is annotated to the effect that the Charity Workhouse treasurer had personally assessed Philip's condition and agreed to take him, provided the workhouse received the allowance paid by the crown to keep him in gaol. By itself, that would not have paid the full marginal cost of keeping Philip and, despite being a public institution with some funding from the city of Edinburgh, the Bedlam relied mainly on voluntary charity. (91) Philip was moved to Bedlam in chains on 11 March 1777, where his family continued to visit him and to contribute to his maintenance by providing personal items like clothing. John Philip's case shows the intersecting and overlapping of agencies and sources of support in the care of the dangerous insane.

However infrequent were encounters with the dangerous insane like John Philip, reformers like Halliday drew attention to what Edinburgh's Kirk Treasurer and other authorities (and their families) had long known of them: the disproportionate cost of their care. (92) What does not come out of early-nineteenth-century commentaries on this category of poor is the enormous trouble someone like John Philip caused to family, neighbours and parish or civic authorities. Only family papers and detailed local records give any sense of the commitment required to such unfortunates and the multiple inputs made into their management. The case of another individual, William Bran from Kincardineshire, vividly illustrates this.
 The [kirk] session (upon the petition of Robert Moncur in Kineff) took
 to consideration the case of William Bran, one of the poor of this
 parish, and find that the said William Bran is now turned to such a
 degree of distraction that it is extremely hazardous he should at any
 time be let loose, in particular the said Robert Moncur and his wife
 (the said William Bran's mother) being in great hazard of their lives
 from him in regard he not only threatens to kill them, or burn their
 house, but has frequently stricken his mother and lately bruised her
 face to such a degree that as yet she wants the sight of one eye, and
 that this was done even when he was in an interval of his more furious
 fits of madness.
 Therefore in order to prevent further mischief and that he the said
 Robert Moncur and his wife and others in the neighbourhood may not be
 in continual terror and hazard from the said William Bran, the session
 judge it proper that he be shackled and secured in a house and
 maintained by the parish, for which they reckon it would be requisite
 that a peck of meal be paid in to the said Robert Moncur by every
 farmer for every pleughs labouring in his own land, half a peck by
 everyone having half a pleughs labouring and a lipie by each cottar
 and grassman within the parish for maintenance of the said William
 Bran for one year, and ordains the minister to intimate this to the
 congregation. (93)

That the organisation of this collection was so detailed is a reminder that regular rating of rural (or 'landward' as opposed to 'burghal') inhabitants for poor relief was not normal across Scotland in this period. (94) It also demonstrates that Bran's care was expensive and demanding and therefore beyond the means of his family. Bran's step-father was responsible for his aliment, which explains why he had to petition for help. The material, physical and emotional resources of Bran's family were tested beyond their limit. Further, his care strained the parish relief funds, normally made up of voluntary donations, incidental revenues from rentals of items like pre-burial winding sheets ('mortcloths') and the interest on bequests or 'mortifications'. The collection reached deep down into society to encompass humble sub-tenants (cottars and grassmen), assessed at only a half-penny ('lipie'). By asking for money from people who were themselves poor (and likely themselves to be in receipt of relief at points during their lives), the Kirk Session was making a social statement as much as a financial collection.

The case continued to occupy the Kirk Session for a further six years as they unquestioningly pursued solutions to the problems Bran posed. (95) In July 1741 the parish minister applied to the heritors for their consent to assess the parish
 for making a fund for maintenance of William Bran in Poweye of Kineff
 in close prison or confinement during life, or at least until he
 recover his judgement, because at present he is subject to fits of
 furiosity during which he runs naked through the country and not only
 frights women and children, but makes attempts to take away the life
 of every person that comes in his way, breaks doors and destroys
 everything in his power, and it is too likely that he will kill some
 person or other if he is not confined in close prison. And that John
 viscount of Arbuthnot is pleased to give the use of a vault or cellar
 in his lordship's lodgings in Bervy for keeping the said William Bran
 rent-free. And that the said heritors were content to enter into a
 contract with him and the kirk session obliging them to pay yearly to
 the treasurer of the kirk session for the above purpose
 [pounds sterling]42 Scots, providing he and the kirk session obliged
 themselves to keep and maintain the said William Bran in close prison
 [and to pay [pounds sterling]8 Scots from session poor relief funds to
 his maintenance] (96)

Bran continued to be a time-consuming and expensive charge, whose condition began to have an impact outside his home parish. In 1742 the Kirk Session had to pay to mend the door of his prison, which he had recently broken down while escaping, and to apprehend him and imprison him again. Bran was not the only pauper in the charge of Kineff parish at a time of considerable hardship caused by extreme winters and high mortality from disease. Because of the strain his maintenance in close confinement placed on the parish coffers, the Presbytery stepped in. The latter body was made up of representatives of Kirk Sessions and dealt, among other things, with issues covering more than one parish. (97) In this case it asked neighbouring parishes to give what they could to Bran's maintenance. Additional donations were forthcoming in the weeks and months following, including [pounds sterling]1 sterling from Alexander Garden of Troup, who was Bran's parents' landlord. Rather than being independent actors, institutions like Kirk Session and Presbytery tapped into existing communal solidarities and facilitated the collection and distribution of funds solicited by that good will. And rather than being purely local bodies, Kirk Sessions could if necessary mobilise the support of groups (if not exactly 'unions') of parishes to meet particular needs. (98) Again the problems of dichotomising forms of care are apparent in the Bran case.

William Bran finally died in June 1746. While the conditions in which the indigent pauper like Bran (and Philip and other lunatics) were held seem barbaric to modern eyes, and were increasingly so perceived by some contemporaries, they are not out of line with the way paupers at large were treated. (99) However, in their 1857 report the Royal Commissioners over-simplified the connection between poverty and crime and lunacy. Not all dangerously mad people were impoverished and those with money could conduct relatively normal lives. (100) For part of the 1790s only four out of six cells for the mad in Dumfries Infirmary were available because a gentleman murderer called Douglas of Luce lived in one and his servant in the other. (101) Upper-class murderers found irresponsible by the courts continued to be dealt with by domestic or quasi-domestic support mechanisms, though sometimes in institutions and always ultimately overseen by central and/or regional courts and officials. Any family could still claim their mad relatives if they entered the appropriate sureties, but the changes that took place in the century under consideration were principally concerned with paupers.


Historians have focused on law suits and pamphlet literature concerned with apparent attempts to exclude able-bodied paupers in the late- eighteenth and early-nineteenth century. (102) At one level the dangerous insane highlight the problems with simple dichotomies like 'able-bodied' and 'impotent', because they were treated as deserving while at the same time being all-too able-bodied. Not only could they be seen as implicitly reprehensible by some donors because of being physically hearty yet out of work, but also many had committed acts that transgressed more widely held moral norms than mere idleness. Vicious, aggressive, ungrateful, unpredictable, not malleable, time consuming and expensive: the dangerous insane were far from being 'obviously deserving' paupers. Yet they were cared for at a considerable cost, which amounted not only to total income support, but included additional sums too. Rather than revealing the inherent crudity and parsimony of past poor relief provision, care of the dangerous insane exemplifies the resourcefulness, adaptability and practical discretion of Scotland's 'old poor law'.

That the dangerous insane occupy an ambiguous position in a developing system of welfare tells us not that the system was imperfect: that is true of all poor relief systems from the middle ages to the present, for support was potentially always fragile, unpredictable, calculating and narrowly focused. (103) It tells us instead that poor relief operated on moral principles that were complex rather than simple. The Bran case is one of many showing the lengths to which providers of poor relief were prepared to go in caring for the mentally disabled of Scotland in the eighteenth century. Even in cases where the supplier of care was disputed (like Reid or Fisher) there was no questioning of the need for support. This commitment to the insane is all the more striking given how difficult it could be for the mentally capable indigent (or their families and carers on their behalf) to enforce the rights they had to relief. (104) The Bran case also typifies how heritors and Kirk Sessions, often portrayed as antagonists, could work together to care for those whom both regarded as deserving.

The treatment of the excluded, who have been the usual focus of historians interested in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, has also to be set against an increasingly focused provision for the included. For example, as commitment to an asylum became more routine in the early nineteenth century, pauper criminal lunatics were increasingly treated as lunatics rather than simply as paupers and criminals. (105) Legislation dealing with the dangerous insane also continued to be refined during the nineteenth century. An Act of 2 and 3 Vict., c. 42 allowed the General Board of Directors for Prisons to contract with any lunatic asylum for the care of insane prisoners or convicts, rather than placing them in prison. A further Act (7 and 8 Vict., c. 34) developed this provision. Amid unedifying and obfuscatory attempts to manufacture a tradition of disablement in the Scots poor law, treatment of the insane became increasingly precise in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Thus, changes in Scottish poor relief at this time can be seen less as an attempt to minimise distributions than as a process of focusing them and not as a way of excluding a certain section of the poor, but a means of redefining how they were to be integrated into a scheme of relief.

In one sense, such legal changes mark an increasingly refined care for the dangerous insane. Case law does not automatically bear on practice and can be overturned, but the decisions cited here did form the basis of subsequent judgements. It is worth bearing in mind that the existence of a court judgement does not mean that all subsequent decisions were determined by it: both may have come out of a growing consensus on ways of acting. Yet those decisions helped to preclude the need for similar such cases after them because in time the judgements became generally known in a society where use of the law was common at all levels: one side of the litigation in all civil cases used here were Kirk Sessions comprised of the middling sort of inhabitants.

There was slow, hesitant and irregular progress towards a unified and precise system of provision. Some stages were hard-won, as institutions like asylums and poorhouses dealt unwillingly with new burdens. Yet these refinements built on a strong underlying commitment to helping the pauper insane, which comprised varying blends of rating and informal charity. Centralised provision and asylums were simply additions to, rather than substitutes for, the existing array of options for care. Their availability to sufferers continued to be mediated by local patrons and institutions, including individuals such a landlords and employers, 'corporate subscribers' such as parishes or burgh councils, or even benefit societies and associations of workmates.

Examples of self-help and begging show that informal charity could be as effective as rating for those perceived as deserving. That men like Fisher (and Anderson Reid) could subsist for years suggests a substantial 'dark figure' of unrecorded, but nevertheless successful, charity--a term that subsumes gratis donations, and other help such as giving work and ignoring theft or trespass. (106) Alongside the prevalence of boarding out, such cases also show that lunatics and idiots were accepted in local communities and could tap the multiple sources of support that were available, ranging from institutions to simple good will. The dangerous insane are thus a warning against perceiving any form of poor relief in practice as a simple polarity between, for example, parish and charity, central and local provision, family and strangers. Sources and locations of care lay along a continuum that could be accessed according to specific need. As Jane Lewis has observed, "it is more accurate to see Britain as always having had a mixed economy of welfare." (107)

The dangerous insane ultimately exceeded the boundaries of family care and community tolerance. In doing so they narrowed down their options within the spectrum of support to formal relief, yet also required more resources. By the time he became visible in documents, a frightening person like William Bran (violent even in his less florid intervals) seems to have exhausted his own store of good will and to have relied on that of his mother and step-father, for he could no longer negotiate on his own behalf in the micro-political arena of local poor relief. His and other cases show that securing access to certain types of care depended on an individual or family's 'cultural capital': their patronage connections and their relationship with 'formalized community organisations', as well as their reputation within the community. (108) The same is true of those who later on would find access to asylums. In the early eighteenth as in the mid-nineteenth century, the dangerous insane illustrate "the frequency with which the 'horizontal' world of informal networks ... continually intersects with the 'vertical' world of patronage and institutions." (109) This component of the poor challenged the effectiveness of a system in which casual charity was prominent because they could not be allowed to beg unsupervised. As Tawney suggested, they are thus a true measure of the worth of a poor relief system.

Department of Modern History

KY16 9AL Scotland


I am grateful to the following for comments on earlier drafts of this paper: David Adam-son, Peter Bartlett, Stephanie Blackden, Andrew Blaikie, Anne Crowther, Martin Daunton, Steve Hindle, Tim Hitchcock, Peter King, Stephen King, Bob Morris, Keith Snell and Pat Thane.

1. Quoted in P. Mathias, The transformation of England (London, 1979), 135.

2. This view owes much to reformers like William Pulteney Alison, whose Observations on the management of the poor in Scotland, and its effects on the health of the great towns (Edinburgh, 1840), argued just that. Pp. 30-1 summarise distinctions between Scottish and English relief. On p. 33 Alison described expenditure on the poor as 'irregular and capricious' in Scotland. For an example of historians who follow it see I. Levitt and C. Smout, The state of the Scottish working-class in 1843 (Edinburgh, 1979), 173, who draw a contrast between "a non-existent or rudimentary poor law in the north-west to a highly organised, almost English poor law in the south-east." This viewpoint is reproduced in L. H. Lees, The solidarities of strangers. The English poor laws and the people, 1700-1948 (Cambridge, 1998), 12-13, where she argues that "Welfare constituted a dividing line between the English and Welsh on the one hand, and Scottish and Irish on the other.... Some had entitlement, and others did not."

3. The words are those of William Pulteney Alison, quoted in M. A. Crowther, "Poverty, health and welfare," in W. H. Fraser and R. J. Morris (eds), People and society in Scotland II, 1830-1914 (Edinburgh, 1990), 265.

4. J. Innes, "The 'mixed economy of welfare' in early modern England: assessments of the options from Hale to Malthus (c.1683-1803) in M. Daunton (ed.), Charity, self-interest and welfare in the English past (London, 1996), 142-9, 163-8.

5. The same is true for England, where chapter 3 of Lees, Solidarities, is entitled "Excluding paupers, 1780-1834."

6. M. Daunton, Progress and poverty. An economic and social history of Britain, 1700-1850 (Oxford, 1995), 449.

7. J. Lewis, "Family provision of health and welfare in the mixed economy of care in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries," Social History of Medicine 8 (1995), 1-16.

8. Report of the Royal Commissioners on lunatic asylums and the laws relating to them in Scotland ... 1857 (Shannon, 1969), 212. Facsimile edition: first published as Report by Her Majesty's Commissioners: appointed to inquire into the state of lunatic asylums in Scotland and the existing law in reference to lunatics and lunatic asylums in that part of the United Kingdom (Edinburgh, 1857).

9. Family law: report on aliment and provision (Scottish Law Commission, memorandum 22: 1976), 2 vols, vol. 2, 345. Between 1579 and 1698 various bodies had been charged with implementing the poor laws, but by the eighteenth century this had settled on the Kirk Session and heritors (conjoined by A.P.S. 1672, c. 18). W. G. Black, A handbook of the parochial ecclesiastical law of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1888), 144-5. J. Lindsay, The Scottish poor law: its operation in the north-east from 1745 to 1845 (Ilfracombe, 1975). T. Hamilton, Poor relief in Ayrshire, 1700-1845 (Edinburgh, 1942). J. E. Graham, The history of the poor law of Scotland previous to 1845 (Cupar, 1924). J. M. McPherson, The kirk's care of the poor: with special reference to the north-east of Scotland (Aberdeen, 1941).

10. Family law, vol. 2, 344-7. J. M. Duncan, Treatise on the parochial ecclesiastical law of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1864), 500-65. There were also 'private' poor relief schemes run principally by urban guilds and incorporations for their indigent members. R. A. Houston, Social change in the age of Enlightenment. Edinburgh, 1660-1760 (Oxford, 1994), ch. 4.

11. R. Mitchison, "The poor law," in T. M. Devine and R. Mitchison (eds), People and society in Scotland, volume I, 1760-1830 (Edinburgh, 1988), 252-67. Mitchison notes that assessment was the norm in the southern counties of Scotland by the 1820s, but not the northern ones. Ibid., 253. R. A. Cage, The Scottish poor law, 1745-1845 (Edinburgh, 1981). A. M'Neel-Caird, The poor-law manual for Scotland (Edinburgh, 1851). A. A. Cormack, Poor relief in Scotland. An outline of the growth and administration of the poor laws in Scotland, from the middle ages to the present day (Aberdeen, 1923). G. Nicholls, A history of the Scotch poor law (London, 1856). O. Checkland, Philanthropy in Victorian Scotland: social welfare and voluntary principle (Edinburgh, 1980), 12-27. There are also contemporary polemics, usually denouncing the evils of assessment. David Monypenny, Remarks on the poor laws, and on the method of providing for the poor (Edinburgh, 1834). L. Walsh, "'The property of the whole community.' Charity and insanity in urban Scotland: the Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum, 1805-1850," in J. Melling and W. Forsythe (eds), Insanity, institutions and society, 1800-1914. A social history of madness in comparative perspective (London: Routledge, 1999), 181-2. Daunton, Progress and poverty, 464-7.

12. A. Duncan [senior], A letter to his majesty's sheriffs-depute in Scotland, recommending the establishment of four national asylums for the reception of criminals and pauper lunatics (Edinburgh, 1818). Walsh, "Charity and insanity," 191-2. There was nothing comparable with these English county asylums in Scotland until 1857. The law was extensively altered around this date. W. G. Black, A handbook of Scottish parochial law other than ecclesiastical (Edinburgh, 1893), 74-81, 149-53.

13. Mitchison, "Poor law," 262-3.

14. M. Daunton, "Introduction," in M. Daunton (ed.), Charity, self-interest and welfare in the English past (London, 1996), 5. Statistics which seem to show superior English provision take no account of the different demography of poverty in Scotland, differential cost of living and work opportunities, or contributions from voluntary charity. Crowther, "Poverty," 269-71.

15. Monypenny, Remarks on the poor laws, 46. The poor were, in Burns's words, 'partially dependent' and did not receive a 'total maintenance'. Monypenny himself argued that "the impotent poor, who are enrolled in the parish lists, in order that their wants may be regularly supplied, and for whom an assessment must, if necessary, be imposed, are only such as are disabled from procuring a living by their own labour, either by old age or by some permanent bodily infirmity or mental incapacity, and who have neither separate means, nor any relations who are bound and able to support them." Ibid., 27. All emphases are in the original. For the bias of Burns's analysis see R. Mitchison, "The creation of the disablement rule in the Scottish poor law," in T. C. Smout (ed.), The search for wealth and stability (London, 1979), 199-217. The original was phrased thus: "In the case of lunatics indeed, who may have no rich relations ... of blind, and deaf and dumb, and lame, and of the inmates of hospitals; in all the case of such classes, a full maintenance is supposed to be given." R. Burns, Historical dissertations on the law and practice of Great Britain, and particularly of Scotland, with regard to the poor ... (Second edition. Glasgow, 1819), 104.

16. Cormack, Poor relief, 76-81, 158-9.

17. Burns, Historical dissertations, 386-7.

18. Alison, Observations, 34.

19. H. Sturdy and W. Parry-Jones, "Boarding-out insane patients: the significance of the Scottish system, 1857-1913," in P. Bartlett and D. Wright (eds), Outside the walls of the asylum: the history of care in the community, 1750-2000 (London, 1999), 86-114. F. J. Rice, "The origins of an organisation of insanity in Scotland," Scottish Economic and Social History 5 (1985), 41-56. F. J. Rice, "Care and treatment of the mentally ill," in O. Check-land and M. Lamb (eds), Health care as social history. The Glasgow case (Aberdeen, 1982), 59-73. The same was apparently also true of Wales. D. Hirst and P. Michael, "Family, community and the lunatic in mid-nineteenth-century North Wales," in P. Bartlett and D. Wright (eds), Outside the walls of the asylum: the history of care in the community, 1750-2000 (London, 1999), 66-85. Sturdy and Parry-Jones, 'Boarding-out insane patients', 112.

20. P. Bartlett, The poor law of lunacy: the administration of pauper lunatics in mid-nineteenth-century England (Leicester, 1999), 35-6. K. Jones, Lunacy, law and conscience, 1744-1845. A social history of the care of the insane (London, 1955), 213-19. Nor did the 1774 Act to regulate private madhouses (14 Geo. III, c. 49) apply to Scotland. J. Innes, "What would a 'four nations' approach to the study of eighteenth-century British social policy entail?," in S. J. Connolly (ed.), Kingdoms united? Great Britain and Ireland since 1500: integration and diversity (Dublin, 1999), 181, points out that eighteenth-century British and Irish legislation generally "did no more than tinker with existing institutions and practices."

21. "Act for the safe custody of insane persons charged with offences," 39 and 40 Geo. III, c. 94.

22. Amending acts in 1808 and 1811 had applied only to England. Duncan, A letter to his majesty's sheriffs-depute, 7-8.

23. J. Melling, W. Forsythe and R. Adair, "Families, communities and the legal regulation of lunacy in Victorian England: assessments of crime, violence and welfare admissions to the Devon asylum," in P. Bartlett and D. Wright (eds), Outside the walls of the asylum: the history of care in the community, 1750-2000 (London, 1999), 153-80; pp. 158-64.

24. In 1802 a third of English parishes used workhouses, but these housed only 11% of those in need of long-term relief. Daunton, Progress and poverty, 454.

25. Houston, Social change, 234-89.

26. R. Mitchison, The old poor law in Scotland. The experience of poverty, 1574-1845 (Edinburgh, 2000). R. Mitchison, "Poor relief and health care in Scotland, 1575-1710," in O. P. Grell and A. Cunningham (eds), Health care and poor relief in Protestant Europe, 1500-1700 (London, 1997), 220-33. R. Mitchison, "The creation of the disablement rule in the Scottish poor law," in T. C. Smout (ed.), The search for wealth and stability (London, 1979), 199-217. A. Paterson, "The poor law in nineteenth-century Scotland," in D. Fraser (ed.), The new poor law in the nineteenth century (London, 1976), 171-93. T. Ferguson, The dawn of Scottish social welfare. A survey from medieval times to 1863 (London, 1948), 271-82. Levitt and Smout, Scottish working-class, 173-85. A. Blaikie, "Nuclear hardship or variant dependency? Households and the Scottish Poor Law," Continuity and Change 17, 2 (2002), 253-80. F. A. MacDonald, "The infirmary of Glasgow Town's Hospital, 1733-1800: a case for voluntarism?," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 73 (1999), 64-105. R. J. Morris, "Philanthropy and poor relief in 19th century Edinburgh: the example of a capital city without a national state government," Melanges de I'Ecole Francaise de Rome 111, 1 (1999), 367-79. There are several contributions in volume 8 of Scottish Archives (2002). For England see in particular P. Rushton, "Lunatics and idiots: mental disability, the community, and the poor law in north-east England, 1600-1800," Medical History 32 (1988), 34-50. P. Rushton, "The poor law, the parish and the community in north-east England, 1600-1800," Northern History 25 (1989), 135-52. A. Suzuki, "The household and the care of lunatics in eighteenth-century London," in P. Horden and R. Smith (eds), The locus of care. Families, communities, institutions, and the provision of welfare since antiquity (London: Routledge, 1998), 153-75. L. D. Smith, "The pauper lunatic problem in the West Midlands, 1815-1850," Midland History 21 (1996), 101-18. S. King, Poverty and welfare in England, 1700-1850: a regional perspective (Manchester, 2000). S. Hindle, On the parish? The micro-politics of poor relief in rural England, c. 1550-1750 (Oxford, 2004). D. Englander, Poverty and poor law reform in Britain: from Chadwick to Booth, 1834-1914 (London: Longman, 1998), 47-8. C. S. Hallas, "Poverty and pragmatism in the northern uplands of England: the north Yorkshire Pennines, c. 1770-1900," Social History 25, 1 (2000), 67-84.

27. The Court of Session judgement which held Kirk Sessions accountable to landowners was Hamilton (23 November 1752). W. M. Morison, The decisions of the Court of Session ... in the form of a dictionary 42 vols consecutively paginated (Edinburgh, 1801-7), 10570.

28. Daunton, "Introduction," 5-6.

29. Ibid., 5.

30. P. Horden, "Household care and informal networks: comparisons and continuities from antiquity to the present," in Horden and Smith (eds), The locus of care, 52.

31. S. Blackden, "The poor law and health: a survey of parochial medical aid in Glasgow, 1845-1900," in T. C. Smout (ed.), The search for wealth and stability (London, 1979), 244, 251-2.

32. Report of the Royal Commissioners ... 1857, Appendix M, 481.

33. Ibid., 212.

34. Ibid., Appendix M, 369. The statute referred to was 4 and 5 Vict. c. 60, which allowed dangerous lunatics to be secured without awaiting the formality of criminal prosecution. However, this had long been an accepted power. "We may also, without any injury, restrain a furious person, or one who is inferring violence to himself in his life or limbs, because this is not against an act of his lawful liberty, and is done as a duty in us of love and mercy." D. M. Walker (ed.), The institutions of the law of Scotland ... by James, Viscount of Stair ... 1693 (Edinburgh, 1981), 97. D. Hume, Commentaries on the law of Scotland, respecting crimes 2 vols (Third edition. Edinburgh, 1844), vol. 1, supplemental notes, 6-7. For an example of the Victorian law in action see Case of alleged insanity. Trial of Alexander Hain, before the Sheriff of Fife, under statute 4 and 5 Vic., cap. 60, as being furious, or fatuous, or lunatic, and dangerous to go at large. 8th October 1850 (Cupar, 1850).

35. R. A. Houston, "A stalker in Georgian Edinburgh," History Scotland 1 (Winter 2001), 51-6. R. A. Houston, "New light on Anson's voyage, 1740-1744: a mad sailor on land and sea," Mariner's Mirror 88, 3 (2002), 260-70. P. H. Brown (ed.), The register of the privy council of Scotland. Third series vol. II: A.D. 1665-1669 (Edinburgh, 1909), 617. For an example of a non-convict committed to an asylum for being dangerous see National Archives of Scotland (NAS) SC39/47/3, Hugh Maxwell (1784).

36. The institution of counsel for the poor was introduced in 1424. A. V. Sheehan, Criminal procedure in Scotland and France (Edinburgh, 1975), 1.

37. There is a particularly lucid exposition of criminal responsibility in A. Alison, Principles of the criminal law of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1832), 644-61. See also Hume, Commentaries, vol. 1, 37-45.

38. Summary, showing, according to the returns from the parochial clergy in Scotland the number of lunatics in each presbytery (House of Commons, 9 July 1817). Included in NAS SC9/21/1.

39. A. Halliday, A letter to the right honourable Lord Binning M.P. etc. containing some remarks on the state of lunatic asylums, and on the number and condition of the insane poor in Scotland (Edinburgh, 1816), appendix, 6-9.

40. A. Halliday, A general view of the present state of lunatics, and lunatic asylums, in Great Britain and Ireland, and in some other kingdoms (London, 1828), 27. A Parliamentary account of 1818 found 82 common gaols and 5 Bridewells or Houses of Correction in Scotland. Ferguson, Dawn of Scottish social welfare, 224.

41. Walsh, "Charity and insanity," 183-4.

42. For examples see R. A. Houston, "'Not simple boarding': care of the mentally incapacitated in Scotland during the long eighteenth century," in P. Bartlett and D. Wright (eds), Outside the walls of the asylum: the history of care in the community, 1750-2000 (London, 1999), 19-44.

43. R. J. B. Lobban, "'Healing for the body as well as the soul': the Aberdeen Royal Asylum in the nineteenth century," (University of Aberdeen: M.Litt. Thesis, 1993), 18.

44. G. B. Risse, Hospital life in Enlightenment Scotland (Cambridge, 1986), 31, 107.

45. Ibid., 107. A. L. Turner, Story of a great hospital. The royal infirmary of Edinburgh, 1729-1929 (Edinburgh, 1937), 97-8.

46. A town's hospital was a poorhouse. Well into the nineteenth century, some chronic patients were still being admitted to Glasgow Town's Hospital when the Asylum was short of space. I owe this information to Jonathan Andrews.

47. J. Cameron, Prisons and punishment in Scotland from the middle ages to the present (Edinburgh, 1983), 165. On the enduring (and legally enforceable) tradition of familial obligation see M. A. Crowther, "Family responsibility and state responsibility in Britain before the welfare state," Historical Journal 25, 1 (1982), 131-45. Cases of law suits to enforce poor relief obligations on family members do not begin to enter the record until the early nineteenth century, though it is likely that informal pressures were brought to bear on relatives prior to this. Family law, vol. 2, 346. See also the nuanced discussion by Pat Thane, "Old people and their families in the English past," in M. Daunton (ed.), Charity, self-interest and welfare in the English past (London, 1996), 113-38.

48. P. G. B. McNeill (ed.), The practicks of Sir James Balfour of Pittendreich, reproduced from the printed edition of 1754 2 vols consecutively paginated (Edinburgh, 1962-3), 514. This was a common law obligation, which pre-dated the first Scottish Poor Law of 1579. On its origins in Canon Law and development in case law see Family law, vol. 2, 331-51. The 1579 law was not repealed until 1906.

49. The statute 55 George III, c. 69, XV-XVI, allowed Sheriffs to make regulations about the confinement and management of the insane, subject to the approval of the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary. See also R. Smith, Trial by medicine. Insanity and responsibility in Victorian trials (Edinburgh, 1981), 21.

50. NAS SC1/18/1, 16.

51. Parliamentary Papers (henceforth PP) 1816, VI, 374.

52. See also PP 1816, I, 312-3.

53. An example is Margaret Wright, sewer in Alloa, aged 22, who was committed to Glasgow Asylum in 1820 by the Sheriff-Substitute of Clackmannanshire. Glasgow City Archives, HB13/7/36.

54. L. Farmer, Criminallaw, tradition and legal order. Crime and the genius of Scots law, 1747 to the present (Cambridge, 1997), 121-2. "An act to regulate madhouses in Scotland" (55 Geo. III, c. 59) made no provision for dangerous pauper lunatics

55. For examples see McPherson, Kirk's care, 140-1, and the case of William Bran (below).

56. Even 'enlightened' reformers like Andrew Duncan senior could remark that "no Lunatic committing a heinous crime should pass unpunished ... Whatever his rank may be, he should be a prisoner for life, and undergoing a certain degree of punishment as a warning to other Lunatics." Duncan, A letter to his majesty's sheriffs-depute, 8-9. In reality, protective confinement was clearly recognised. Further, a person who was mentally incapable could not be punished as they lacked the intent necessary to make retribution valid.

57. Signet Library (SL) Session Papers vol. 501, case 43, "Answers for the heritors and kirk sessions of St Quivox, Sorn, and Ochiltree ... 4 September 1817," 8. NAS JC26/361.

58. SL Session Papers vol. 501, case 43, "Answers for the heritors and kirk sessions of St Quivox, Sorn, and Ochiltree ... 4 September 1817," 6-7.

59. This case dragged on into the 1820s and was not settled until a judgement by the House of Lords (10 March 1830). A. Dunlop, Parochial law (Edinburgh, 1830), 185. When he wrote an earlier version of this in 1828 he reported that the crown was responsible for someone guilty but insane who was confined by order of the court. A. Dunlop, A treatise on the law of Scotland relative to the poor (Second edition. Edinburgh, 1828), 27-8, 47-8. This was reversed at appeal and the burden of support was laid on the parish of settlement. W. Hay, Decisions on the poor law of Scotland in the Court of Session, and awards by arbitration (Edinburgh, 1865), 136-7.

60. Decisions of the first and second divisions of the Court of Session from [1808-1825] 7 vols (2nd edition, Edinburgh, 1815-28), 1815-19, 558-61, Scott v. Thomson, 13 November 1818. SL Session Papers vol. 517, case 21, pp. 14-18.

61. 55 George III, c. 69, III, specified that the fees for licenses issued to private madhouses should be credited to the county's 'Rogue Money' (less the clerk's fee of 5%), and used to pay expenses associated with the implementation of the Act.

62. Mitchison, "Creation of the disablement rule," 208, 210. Dunlop, Parochial law, 203, 219.

63. The principle was established by Paton v. Adamson (20 November 1772): Morison, Decisions, 10577. Daunton, Progress and poverty, 451.

64. SL Session Papers, vol. 507, case 40, p. 13. Dunlop, Parochial law, 198.

65. M'Neel-Caird, Poor-law manual for Scotland, 17, 20. Quotation at p. 17. The manual cites a case of 1800 which is set out at greater length in Ibid., 66. Dunlop, Parochial law, 198.

66. Bartlett, Poor law of lunacy, 174-9, notes that dangerousness was an important reason to seek asylum admission from either a domestic setting or a workhouse one in nineteenth-century England.

67. Paisley Main Library (PML) Town Hospital Minute Books, 1764-86, 18 August 1767, 6 June 1769, 4 March 1777, 16 September 1777.

68. Brown, History of Paisley, vol. 2, 25-6. Burns, Historical dissertations, 356.

69. As was James Somerville in 1704. Arguments and decisions in remarkable cases before the High Court of Justiciary and other supreme courts in Scotland. Collected by Mr MacLaurin (Edinburgh, 1774), 99.

70. Edinburgh City Archives (ECA) St Cuthbert's Charity Workhouse Minutes, vol. 1.

71. ECA Minutes of the ordinary managers ... Canongate Charity Workhouse, vol.1, 1761-8.

72. M. Wood, "St Paul's work," Book of the Old Edinburgh Club 17 (1930), 49-75. Cormack, Poor relief, 76-80. Dublin's House of Correction seems to have performed a similar function in the late seventeenth century. J. Robins, Fools and mad. A history of the insane in Ireland (Dublin, 1986), 27. O. Walsh, "Lunatic and criminal alliances in nineteenth-century Ireland," in P. Bartlett and D. Wright (eds), Outside the walls of the asylum: the history of care in the community, 1750-2000 (London, 1999), 132-52.

73. Rice, "Organisation of insanity," 42-5, 47-8.

74. See for example R. P. Hastings, Poverty and the poor law in the North Riding of Yorkshire, c. 1780-1837 (Borthwick Papers no. 61, 1982), 30.

75. Halliday, A general view of the present state of lunatics, 28.

76. PP 1844, XX, 672.

77. Horden, "Household care," 27-8.

78. Poor Law Enquiry Commission for Scotland. Communications. PP 1844 XXII, 949-60.

79. J. M'Farlan, Inquiries concerning the poor (Edinburgh, 1782), 7-8. There was a category of 'dangerous idiots' specified in English provisions. Hirst and Michael, "Family, community and the lunatic," 67, 75.

80. SL Session Papers, vol. 507, case 40, "Petition of Rev. John Thomson and others, members of the Kirk Session of Newbattle. 10 September 1818," 2-3.

81. SL Session Papers, vol. 501, case 43, "Petition of ... the Commissioners of Supply of Wigton. 30 June 1817," 2-3.

82. This concept was first discussed in the late eighteenth century by authorities such as Benjamin Rush and Franz Joseph Gall.

83. NASJC3/1. JC26/361.

84. NASJC3/1.

85. J. Howard, The state of the prisons in England and Wales (Warrington, 1777).

86. NAS JP2/2/2.

87. State of the lunatic hospital and dispensary at Montrose ... [1782-7] [n.p., 1787?], 1. A. S. Presly, A Sunnyside chronicle. A history of Sunnyside Royal Hospital (Dundee, 1981), 1.

88. Halliday, A letter to ... Lord Binning, 19.

89. Houston, "A stalker in Georgian Edinburgh," 51-6.

90. NAS JC26/212.

91. Houston, Social change, ch. 4.

92. Halliday, A letter to ... Lord Binning, appendix, 7-8.

93. NAS CH2/218/2, p. 331 (23/10/1740).

94. Historians conventionally focus on urbanisation and industrialisation as the driving force behind early-nineteenth-century changes in poor relief in general and the Scottish Poor Law Amendment Act of 1845 in particular. Englander, Poverty, 48-9. Blackden, "The poor law and health," 244-5. The major towns did pioneer important developments in provision, especially of in-relief. However, most of the case law relating to the dangerous insane came out of disputes involving rural parishes--as did certain other landmark cases in Scottish poor law administration such as Paton v. Adamson (1772) and Pollock v. Darling (1804).

95. NAS CH2/218/2, 340, 342-3, 346-7, 357, 391.

96. Ibid., 342-3. The pound Scots was worth approximately one-twelfth of the pound sterling.

97. Black, Handbook of the parochial ecclesiastical law, 150-73.

98. Scotland had 800 units of poor relief administration in the shape of parishes, compared with England's 600 after 1834.

99. R. A. Houston, "Madness, morality, and creativity: Robert Fergusson and the social context of insanity in eighteenth-century Scotland," British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 22, 1 (1999), 133-54. The change does not seem to have affected Ireland, where "asylums and prisons were intimately linked." Walsh, "Lunatic and criminal alliances," 134.

100. A. T. Scull, The most solitary of afflictions. Madness and society in Britain, 1700-1900 (London, 1993), 358. Duncan, A letter to his majesty's sheriffs-depute, 9.

101. Crichton Royal Hospital, Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, Minutes of the Weekly Meeting, 12 September 1795.

102. Innes, "Mixed economy," 164-5, shows how Enlightenment thinkers questioned the permanent endowment of charity while seeking to find ways of providing more relief, but also more cost-effective means of relief.

103. Horden, "Household care," 52.

104. Mitchison, "Poor law," 254.

105. Jones, Lunacy, 69.

106. Horden, "Household care," 29-30, focuses on the poor visibility of informal care from any quarter.

107. Lewis, "Family provision," 1.

108. Horden, "Household care," 22.

109. Ibid., 52.

By R. A. Houston

University of St. Andrews
COPYRIGHT 2006 Journal of Social History
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Houston, R.A.
Publication:Journal of Social History
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 22, 2006
Previous Article:Nobles, patricians and officers: the making of a regional political elite in late medieval Flanders.
Next Article:Fear and contemporary history: a review essay.

Related Articles
The Cambridge Urban History of Britain. (Reviews).
Lethal predators and future dangerousness.
The Old Poor Law in Scotland: The Experience of Poverty, 1574-1845. .
Munoz v. Kolender.
Munoz v. Kolender.
Job postings.
Toward a new assumption in law and ethics.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters