Friday 17 February 2017

Lincoln Asylum Management Board, 1820

When “The Committee of Friends to Establishment of the County of Lincoln Lunatic Asylum” met in the Guildhall, Lincoln in June, 1807, the conclusion of their meeting was minuted and signed by Chairman and Mayor of Lincoln, John Hett.  That became the first entry in a book of minutes (HOSP/LAWN/1/1/1) which still survives today in the collection of Lincolnshire Archives, Lincoln.

Lincoln Lunatic Asylum Board Minutes (HOSP/LAWN/1/1/1)
17th June 1807
The Committee for conducting the Business of the intended Lunatic Asylum of the County of Lincolnshire return their best thanks to the Benefactors of all ranks for their liberal support of that Charity; and beg leave to lay before them & the Public the very flattering statement of the additional Benefactions –
(List of Benefactions)

The next meeting will be at the Guildhall on Wednesday the 8th Day of July next, at 12 o’clock when a full attendance of the Benefactors is requested, and in the mean time Benefactions are received by Mr G Moore, Lincoln, - or Messrs Smith, Payne & Smith, London.
(Signed) John Hett, Chairman

Present amount of Benefactions £2386.12.0.

The minutes would be published in the Lincoln, Spalding and Stamford Mercury later that month where the report also included a list of around 50 new benefactors pledging money for the building of the Asylum. The Right Honourable Lord Brownlow donated £100 while “A Friend to Humanity” donated two guineas.

Progress in raising enough subscriptions must have been slow but by 1820 Lincoln Lunatic Asylum had received its first patients. The Committee of Friends had evolved to become the Board responsible for the management of the Asylum. The minutes of their regular Monday meetings are also recorded in the same book. Looking at the minutes from the three meetings held during December, 1820 we can get a brief insight into the matters coming before the Board at that time - the admission of patients, finance, purchasing of new equipment, disciplinary matters and the food provided for the patients.

4th December, 1820
Sarah Jaques and Thomas Pacey were received from the Lincoln House of Industry on Wednesday last, agreeably to the resolution of last Weekly Board.

Ordered that the Sum of £27.9.2 be paid to Mr Fisher for Monthly Bills.

11th December, 1820
Ordered that Sarah Smith be received this day at the Weekly Payment of 12 shillings.

Ordered that a Papin’s Digester be procured.

Ordered that the Bread, Cheese, Butter and Beer be introduced to the Board every Monday.

A complaint having been made by Mr Fisher against John Kelp the Keeper for improper conduct he was reprimanded and told that if he again gave occasion for a similar complaint he would be immediately discharged.

When examining the minutes I found myself questioning just what equipment was to be procured. My initial thought was that it read "Pauper’s Register" but with a bit of help from the internet I realised that the Board were approving the purchase of a Papin’s Digester which was a form of pressure cooker.

Lincoln Lunatic Asylum Board Minutes (HOSP/LAWN/1/1/1) 

18th December, 1820
That Bells be hung from the Keepers and Nurses rooms to the Director’s and Matron’s Bedrooms.

That a Bin be provided for Flour etc.

That the Diet of the Nottingham Lunatic Asylum as specified underneath be adopted by this institution till further orders to the contrary, subject at all times to alterations by the Faculty.

Sunday    Roast meat with Pudding under, Potatoes or other Vegetables.
               For Females Rice Pudding.
               For males 
Monday    Broth or soup made from the Bones and refuse meat of the preceding day
Tuesday  Boiled Mutton with Vegetables and suet dumplings
Wednesday Broth made from meat of preceding day
Thursday  Boiled Beef and Vegetables
Friday Peas Soup made from the Broth of the preceding day with any meat which may be left
Saturday Irish Stew made with Mutton, all the odd meat of the house, Onions, Potatoes, etc, etc
Morning Females Coffee with dry toast
               Males Good milk Pottage
Evening Females Tea with Bread and Butter
                Males Bread and Cheese with Beer

The Corporation of Boston gave notice of their intention to subscribe 10 £ annually to this Institution, & remitted the sum of 10 £ being one year’s subscription due the 29th of September last.

The General Lunatic Asylum at Sneinton, Nottingham was the first County Asylum to open in England, admitting patients in February, 1812. Like Lincoln it had been partly funded by subscription and received both pauper and private patients. The reported “dietary” of Nottingham Asylum poses some questions. Could “roast meet with Pudding under” be roast beef with Yorkshire pudding? What did the men get for pudding on a Sunday?

The final minute for that month shows that the Board were not averse to having a day off when circumstances permitted.

25th December, 1820
It being Christmas day no Committee was held.

The images shown above were taken by the author and are reproduced here with the kind permission of Lincolnshire Archives.