Monday, 28 September 2015

The Chaplain's Entertainments-the Reverend Edward Geoffrey O'Donoghue

On Saturday 26 September I was fortunate to catch Bethlem Museum of the Mind's talk by Curator Victoria Northwood. Victoria presented an introduction to both the ministry of the Bethlem chaplain from 1892-1930 but also the 742 glass lantern slides he collected to illustrate the history of the hospital and chronicle even its demolition after staff and patients had moved to the Beckenham site now also home to the Museum of the Mind.
I have the advantage of being related to a former chaplain at Springfield the Surrey County Asylum and contemporary asylum chaplain to O'Donoghue. Whilst researching Springfield records at the London Metropolitan Archives some years ago I noticed that the Bethlem Chaplaincy was slightly more remote than the other London asylum chaplains,I suspect because of Bethlem's history and relationship with benefactors that the hospital was different to the county asylums and whereas chaplains at Colney Hatch and Springfield and Hanwell were actively raising concerns to both Houses of Parliament about qualification and training of Attendants and nurses that O'Donoghue's ministry took a differen course. Nevertheless I noticed that when O'Donoghue was away that services were taken by the Springfield chaplain who stayed in the local parish close to the Hospital.
Edward Geoffrey O'Donoghue was born in Sennen Cornwall, the most westerly parish in mainland England. Little is known of his parents but he was awarded a BA at Oxford and at the time of the 1881 census was living at Glasshouse Street Westminster and was curate at Saint James church in Piccadilly. His first wife Mary Louise was 4 years older than he and was to give birth to their son Cyril Geoffrey and daughter Violet. Mary Louisa died age 56 in the winter of 1907.
 By 1901 the family had moved to 102 Elgin Crescent Kensington where son and daughter aged 17 and 16 are employed as a mercantile clerk and typist respectively. In 1911 we found that following bereavement that Reverend O'Donoghue  married Emma Laud his second wife in 1908 and this leads to his 1911-1935 residence at 5 Quintin Avenue Morden Park Surrey. He dies there in 1935 only 5 years after ending his chaplaincy at Bethlem.
His history of the Bethlem Hospital was completed in 1913 and published in 1914. He spent some time at both the British Library and Public Record Office and Victoria used the posed photograph's of both to illustrate her talk. I can recall very clearly researching in both and the Public Record Office lantern slide brought back memories of the basement!Lantern Slide collection LSC-053,1 shows O'Donoghue holding the visitation manuscript document in a basement strong room. All of the images are available online at The Bethlem Archive Catalogue.
O'Donoghue invented a supposed Book of benefactors to illustrate their role Lantern Slide Collection LSC-047,1 in the hospital by tracing references in various documents and then creating his own supposed page!
Victoria illustrated both fires in 1907 and 1924 from the collection as well as demonstating his organisation of coach trips for patients from the hospital particularly to West Wickham and Keston.
The collection also contributes images to the current exhibition at the Museum with an extraordinary interest in the role of women in the first world war. O'Donoghue clearly poses for photograpphs and takes images of his own byt the 1914-1918 collection of images are undertaken professionally and the role of women images draw upon a wider variety of subjects than he would have had access to. The lantern slides themselves reveal that he obviously drew heavily on the services of professionals to prepare the glass sides he needed to illustrate his talks. The acquisition from one supplier E G Wood of Cheapside is worthy of mention as the context of the slides around the actual images reveals that a well established family owned and run business were his major providers. Woods' also provided projectors, pointers and boxes for anyone wishing to offer lantern slide presentations long before O'Donaghue took up his chaplaincy see Ernest George Wood biography.
It is worth pointing out that the collection was continued after O Donoghue's death in the summer of 1935 when probate is granted; the images at Monk's Orchard Road in 1937 Lantern Slide Collection-407,1 to 412,1 were added after O'Donoghue's death.
The Keep the Home Fires Burning exhibition continues until the end of October see Bethlem Museum of the Mind. If you visit do view the splendid gallery exhibit Around the Kitchen Table featuring a table and seats from timber felled on he site.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

The Ruptured Poor of Bromley

I have in the last year transcribed and prepared for future online publication two series of transcripts which relate to medical history in Bromley Kent.

  • Thomas Ilott surgeon of High Street Bromley medical ledger from 1809-1915 contains several references to hernia repair and trusses.
  • The Bromley Poor Law Union Lunatic registers contain examinations on admission to and discharge from the Workhouse.

In both records I was impressed by the frequency of encountering hernia cases medical practitioners described ruptures and repair (or in the Workhouse recording lack of surgery or provision of a truss).
Whilst I researched many recurring conditions found in Ilott in the first decade of the nineteenth century I came upon the National Truss Society founded in 1786 in London.
The object of the Society was to relieve the ruptured poor of both sexes and the illustration from a Commercial directory in the 1900's records the history of offering surgical relief "every necessary operation" as well as trusses "for every kind of rupture" for both sexes " throughout the kingdom". Strenuous labour was of course a cause of many hernias in both male and female and hernia repair would be commonplace for local surgeons like Ilott. Further research found the London society in 1817 estimated one in eight male workers  throughout the United Kingdom had need of surgery.
I found further information in one district of London via the UCL project for Bloomsbury Bloomsbury Rupture Society history. What is of interest from a Bromley perspective is that Thomas Ilott was like William Blair a surgeon and pro vaccination doctor whose large vaccination programme for the parishes in which he was parish doctor saved countless lives of children.
Doctor Alexander Shannon the Bromley Poor Law Union Medical Officer records in the surviving Lunatic registers his examinations (and those of his deputy Doctor Yolland) examinations on admission and discharge as pauper lunatics within the terms of the Lunacy Acts in late Victorian and Edwardian Workhouse records. One recurring theme of these examinations is the incidence of hernia both surgically treated and present but untreated. Whether wearing a truss or not the medical examinations identify those paupers in need of treatment either at the Workhouse Infirmary (expanded in the 1890's). Hernia needs as well as the Union's lack of suitable provision for children I have no doubt were a concern for both doctors. In 1908/9 the Union built separate provision for boys and girls; what is less clear is the provision for surgery. Certainly the Union Workhouse became increasingly oriented to development of medical services from the 1900's.
These glimpses of the  problem from these two archive records hint at medical attempts to assist work related health problems at both ends of the nineteenth century.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Monday, 7 September 2015

Bromley Union Lunatic Register detention of imbeciles

The construction of the Union workhouse at Locksbottom in the 1840's brought two areas of the site for detention of Lunatics and Imbeciles. ( I adopt the language of the periodand Lunacy Acts). Those detained within the registers as Lunatics were housed in wards within the Infirmary block which was a single wing to the east of the main block or "house". Bromley Archives have an architect's diagram (reference 1786/1) which shows an individual Infirmary building in detail. The purpose of the diagram was to identify existing drainage with a view to extending the Infirmary and creating a Wellbrook Road entrance with wall and iron railings. The diagram (circa 1899) identifies also an isolation ward although no specific purpose for this bay to the east of the infirmary is given it can be assumed to have been used to isolate those who medically or for behaviour management reasons needed seclusion. The diagram also shows two sides of the room had observation.
The mechanical restraint register which remains closed to public examination until 2033 records use of restraint Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/10. The register includes copies of the relevant Lunacy Acts which require its maintenance and entries date from 1899 to 1933.
The diagram referred to also shows that separate accommodation had been made since the Workhouse construction in the 1840's for the detention of imbeciles. The surviving register kept by various Masters of the Workhouse from 1871 onwards records some detail of detention from childhood of children teenagers and adults who within the Victorian language of the Lunacy Acts were deemed feeble minded Idiots or imbeciles. Close to the Chapel of the workhouse a wing of the Workhouse had been designed for the reception each evening of the male and female vagrants who were admitted as "Casuals". In the centre of this building was a ward for imbeciles. Throughout the 1890's and 1900's this ward was supervised by a married couple designated in commercial directories and census as responsible for imbeciles.
The youngest child detained was three years 8 months old; Lucy Allen Bromley Archivist and I have researched his life history. Most of those detained  after a period of detention at the Workhouse are transferred to Kent County Asylum at Barming Heath. The Workhouse Lunacy registers seem to indicate transfer is delayed by availability of bedspace at Barming as extension orders are recorded by the Workhouse Medical Officer.
The Union Workhouse Infirmary was expanded after 1899 with the building of two additional wings with a main internal corridor and Wellbrook Road entrance with increased staffing for the infirmary. A further plan Bromley Archives reference 1786/2 records the new Infirmary wards and details the 1908 planning consent for a childrens ward for girls and boys for the 1909 construction to begin. This utilised land along Wellbrook Road to the north east of the Infirmary and adjacent to a private house.
The Lunacy Registers also confirm a practice found in asylums throughout the nineteenth century of using former patients as attendants.
Sir Alexander Morison 1779-1866 was physician at Bethlem Hospital and in common with other asylums such as Hanwell commissioned three artists to sketch patients in acute phase and "recovery". In his work The Physiognomy of mental diseases published in 1843 (a year before Bromley Union Workhouse began to operate) he devotes a chapter to those with "idiocy". This work readable online reflects the understanding of Victorian medicine and early psychiatry and Morison records that there is a spectrum of impairment from "idocy in which the intellectual impairment is but little beneath the ordinary standard and the individual is nearly but not quite competent to manage the affairs of ordinary life" to those who lack continence speech and are in need of complete care.
Among the illustrations is the trio of a 34 year old man with epilepsy and in Morison's words "weak intellect and kind disposition...takes fatherly charge of two idiots one nine and the other fifteen years old both of whom seem fond of him".
The Bromley Union Lunacy Registers record examples of the Workhouse Medical Officer allowing former patients to remain in the Infirmary to act as Attendants and the youngest child found in the registers refrred to above was on transfer to Kent County Asylum at Barming Heath resident on a female ward to be cared for by a female patient.
 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Bromley Union Lunatic Registers "belladonna plaister"

I was rather taken by surprise to find a number of admissions in the Lunatic registers which on medical examination recorded scars or marks from belladonna plasters.
Belladonna plasters were often used on the breasts of women after childbirth to stop breast milk supply and indeed there are examples found in the registers of such application.
The medical profession had linked belladonna plaster use to episodes of sudden onset behaviour which was uncharacteristic. Bella donna plasters had been commercially manufactured since the 1840's (and continue to be available to this day).
However as The British Medical Journal of 1872 records a letter from the daughter of a patient belladonna plaster had accounted for complete change in her mother's appearance speech and behaviour.
Post partum mood and mental state regularly feature in admissions to Asylums of the period but the Bromley Workhouse Medical Officer is regularly examining women with such plasters or marks of earlier use.
Belladonna plasters are reported to affect mood and behaviour in men. These plasters were often used by doctors to alleviate pain in inflamed arthritic and rheumatic conditions but the varying strength of the toxins were also found to contribute to skin rashes and behavoural changes.
The registers are an interesting link to nineteenth century medicine entering the twentieth century.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Bromley Poor Law Union Lunacy Registers

As part of Kent Online Parish Clerks agreement with Bromley Archives I am currently transcribing surviving Lunacy Registers from the Union Workhouse.
This is an intriguing transcription project which requires an understanding of both the Lunacy Acts of Victorian Britain and the operation of the Poor Law in Bromley Union.
The Bromley Union has left the Archives with over 1100 items. At present three Lunacy registers are open to the public and the agreement includes a fourth register to be transcribed in 2016 when it becomes open to public use. In addition a fourth register which includes a relatively small number of admissions to Lunacy wards between 1871 and 1911 has been transcribed. The Deaths register is also relevant and has been transcribed.
The Master of the Workhouse in 1870 was T H V Lukey and he began this register and successor Masters may or may not have used this volume to record information about paupers who were removed from "the House" general wards because of their needs for observation or transfer to other institutions ( most commonly an Asylum).
The Workhouse had become known originally as "George's House" because of the leadership  offered over the early years of the Union by George Warde Norman.
For the searcher whether family historian seeking biography of family members or academic researcher it is important to understand the value of each of the volumes in the Archive.
Lukeys 1871 intention appears to have been to record certain admissions. The volume is particular in recording individuals parish of origin or identifying Settlement issues.(Bromley Archives reference GBy/W/I/L/9) This is particularly noteworthy in the Penge area the only part of the Union boundary to encounter a non-parochial area of land. Bromley Guardians appear to have been keen to seek Adjudication orders to identify where other Unions are held to be financially responsible. The volume  omits most admissions to the Lunacy wards in the period to 1907 but its value in those individuals recorded often have relatives names relationships and addresses. If the searcher can locate an entry this volume becomes very worthwhile.
One of the long serving Masters G H Gregory (until 1902) is in place when the first surviving register to conform to the format of the 1890 Lunacy Act (53 Victoria Cap.5) for the years from 26 June 1899 to 24 March 1902. This register is found at Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/1.
The register records over 7 columns information about the Lunatic or alledged Lunatic the authority by which they are detained and arrangement for discharge either to an asylum or other institution. A further 3 columns are then completed by the Medical Officer of the Workhouse.
It is therefore possible by inspecting this register to determine whether in practice those detained were done so in a legal manner and identify the authority responsible for their detention.
The register is written in the language of the the time and of the Lunacy Acts (consolidated in the 1890 Act). The slightly archaic view of mental health issues is plain to read with terminology of imbeciles, feeble minded and Idiots applied to those with often severe learning difficulties;dumb is used rather than without speech.
I had several impressions as I transcribed this volume. The work of Relieving Officers in their areas becomes apparent when they bring a person into the Lunacy Ward for up to 3 days (Section 20) as do Police orders under Section 20. A number of Police orders are found on medical examination to be more appropriate to the Infirmary or the general population of "The House" and the medical Officer discharges to the appropriate accommodation. The Relieving Officer is often dealing with two members of the same household or family with questions as to their mental health. The Relieving Officer is also responsible on discharge to the Asylum on escorting the person (sometimes with an additional Attendant from the staff) according to nature of the individual need and is the authorised person making the transfer.
The Second volume is for the period from April 1902 to October 1904 (Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/2) and this is partly under the Workhouse Master Albert Edward Cave. Unfortunately both the entries in the volume from 1871 begun by Gregory are almost wholly absent for these years and Lunacy register contains no entries by the Workhouse Medical Officer. It is difficult to conclude how Cave allowed such decline in record keeping and the result for the searcher is of limited value. The Admissions record (and discharge records) death registers and The Kent County Asylum casenotes are likely to add detail. The searcher for the record 1902-1907 at Bromley Archives has often bene more successful in searching the Kent County Asylum casenotes at Maidstone Library and Archives. Searchers are often puzzled why their ancestor cannot be found at Bromley;the answer is invariably the poor record left for these years.
There is then a missing record volume from the series. Cave died in 1907 the missing record is between October 1904 and May 1907. Mister T Healey takes up post in 1907 as Master and one of the earliest records in the volume is signed by him personally accepting admission in the early hours of the morning. Mister Healey's records are meticulous and the entries in the 1871 volume resume as a companion to the Lunacy Register. Bromley Archives reference GBy/W/I/L/3 contains entries from 6 May 1907 to 10 August 1911. The 1871-1911 volume Bromley Archives reference 846GBy/W/I/L/9 contains entries from 9 March 1871 to 20 September 1911 and this volume will be eventually researched with reference to Bromley Union Administration records for Lunacy Administration whose 2 volumes will record County Council repayments 1893-1904 and claims for maintenance 1905-1907 in an effort to support the searcher.
One immediate impression of operation of mental health legislation in the two registers where medical officer of the Workhouse examinations and movement are recorded concerns the use by police of their powers under section 20 of the Act to detain for up to 3 days an alledged Lunatic. In many cases the Workhouse Medical Officer uses this period to sober up clean up and diagnose medical treatment; relatively few Police Orders result in the Medical Officer detaining under his powers- a more likely outcome being transfer to the Workhouse general population or in case of medical need to the Infirmary ward of the Workhouse. This may be of interest since subsequent Mental Health Acts in the twentieth century retained the power of a constable but concern was expressed that such powers often presented individuals to Psychiatric Hospitals who did not require admission.
Working with  Bromley Archivist Lucy Allen each of the relevant transcripts in preparation are going to be compared with entries in the Mechanical Restraint register. The transcript will offer merely confirmation of an entry in this register. This register is closed to public examination due to entries covering 1899-1931. My work will cover the period to 1915 as Kent Online Parish Clerks operate a 100 year privacy period as required by international data protection legislation. The searcher will need to request permission of Bromley Archives and Local Studies to view the mechanical restraint register entry.
There are entries by Workhouse Master and Workhouse Medical Officer mentioning the use of a padded room in the workhouse and descriptions of violent or agitated individuals to be transferred by Relieving Officers to Kent County Asylum suggest that a degree of physical restraint was needed; some incidents of self injury or self harm are also contained in Medical Officer examinations and in some epileptic individuals there are recorded injuries to the head as a result of headbanging usually against a wall.
The transcripts will be prepared for online publication by the end of 2016.

 © Henry Mantell Downe Online Parish Clerk 2015