Crim­i­nal lu­natics

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - FOCUS ON LUNATIC AYSLUM RECORDS -

Any­one con­victed of a crim­i­nal of­fence and cer­ti­fied as in­sane, ei­ther at court or af­ter­wards in prison, was ad­mit­ted to an asy­lum as a crim­i­nal lu­natic. Their crimes ranged from mur­der, man­slaugh­ter and as­sault through to theft, bur­glary and at­tempt­ing to com­mit sui­cide. The most dan­ger­ous pris­on­ers were housed at the na­tional Crim­i­nal Lu­natic Asy­lum: for Eng­land and Wales, this was Broad­moor; for Scot­land, it was in Perth. How­ever, crim­i­nal lu­natics who were judged to be harm­less were sent to county asy­lums.

Re­gard­less of the crime or the length of sen­tence, crim­i­nal lu­natics could only be ad­mit­ted to asy­lums un­der war­rant from the Sec­re­tary of State for the Home Of­fice. If they were cured while in the asy­lum, they could be re­turned to prison to serve out the rest of their sen­tence.

How­ever, it was more com­mon for crim­i­nal lu­natics to stay in the asy­lum af­ter their cus­to­dial war­rants had ex­pired, af­ter which time they be­came pau­per lu­natics.

Charles Henry Jones, aged 16, was con­victed of lar­ceny at Sal­ford on 26 Oc­to­ber 1880 and sen­tenced to 18 months’ im­pris­on­ment in Strange­ways and five years’ po­lice su­per­vi­sion. Not long be­fore the end of his sen­tence, he was found to be in­sane. His crim­i­nal lu­nacy war­rant dated 22 March 1882 con­firms that he was ad­mit­ted to Prest­wich Lu­natic Asy­lum.

The asy­lum reg­is­ter states he was dis­charged on 14 Septem­ber 1882, stay­ing for just un­der six months. Check­ing prison records as well as asy­lum doc­u­ments can shed some light on why crim­i­nal lu­natics com­mit­ted their crimes.

The day room for male pa­tients at the Broad­moor Crim­i­nal Lu­natic Asy­lum in 1867

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