'The Keeper Must Himself Be Kept': Visitation and the Lunatic Asylum in England, 1750-1850
Clio medica (Amsterdam, Netherlands) 2009; 86: 199-222
There was a growing disquiet in eighteenth-century England about the activities of private madhouses. Early legislation, in 1774, gave limited powers of registration and inspection to local magistrates.The exposure of flagrant abuses in both private and public institutions by a parliamentary select committee, in 1815, brought the question of visitation to the centre of the lunacy reform agenda. Subsequent legislation extended the responsibilities of magistrates and also established the principal of centralised oversight. An effective national system of regulation was finally created in 1845, with Commissioners in Lunacy required to provide formal visitation to all public and private asylums.
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