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THE STATUTES OF ENGLAND, IRELAND, AND SCOTLAND,
RELATING TO SUCH PERSONS;
PRECEDENTS AND BILLS OF COSTS.
BY LEONARD SHELFORD, ESQ.
OF THE MIDDLE TEMPLE, BARRISTER AT LAW.
Law Booksellers and Publishers:
IN consequence of the numerous and important alterations and decisions which have taken place in the law respecting Lunatics, since the publication of any separate work upon that subject, the author was induced to undertake the present compilation, embracing the law and practice in Lunacy, with the hope that it might prove of some utility to those, or at least to the inexperienced, who are led to its consideration by professional or other duties, and at the same time be not otherwise than conducive to the humane treatment of that unfortunate class of persons, who either do, or are alleged to, labour under one of the greatest afflictions incident to human nature.
The course of proceeding provided by law for depriving persons of the exercise of civil rights, on the ground of insanity, and the manner in which their property and persons are afterwards disposed of, would at all times have been an object of interest to many, but the subject has now assumed greater importance, on account of the considerable increase within the last fifty years, in the number of the insane, and in that branch of the business of the Court of Chancery, which has for its object the management of their persons and estates.
In the year 1790, Lord Chancellor Thurlow made 138 orders in lunacy; in 1791, he made 91 orders; and in 1794, he made 94 orders. In 1821, Lord Chancellor Eldon made 245 orders; in 1822, he made 320 orders; and in 1823, he made 364 orders (a). It
appears by the return (6), made by the Secretary of Lunatics to the Lord Chancellor, of Lunatic Petitions which had been decided by the Lord Chancellors for the time being, in each year, during the last six years, that the numbers from the 1st May to the 30th April in the following years, were as follows, viz.—from 1824 to 1825, 291; 1825 to 1826, 341; 1826 to 1827, 428; 1827 to 1828, 403; 1828 to 1829, 463; 1829 to 1830, 483; and by a recent return(c) made to the House of Commons, that 386 lunatics were at that time confined, under the authority of the Lord Chancellor.
The number of other persons in England and Wales, who are in confinement as lunatics, is probably not accurately ascertained; as it is believed that the returns, directed to be made by recent acts of Parliament, are still very defective. Sir A. Halliday, in the year 1829, stated, that the number returned by the clerks of the peace, of the several counties of
(a) Report on the Chancery Commission, 9th March, 1826; evidence of Mr. Carr, then Secretary of Lunatics, p. 503.
(6) Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, 8th June, 1830.
(c) Ordered, by the House of Commons to be printed, 3rd July, 1832, containing the following particulars109 Lunatics, whose property amounts to less than 2001. per annum each:-Total annual amount of such pro- £ S. d. perty
11,210 14 3 234 Lunatics, whose property amounts to 2001. each per
annum, and upwards :—Total annual amount of such property
264,464 14 7
43 Lunatics whose property is not ascertained.
England and Wales, and from other sources, was 13,720, and he estimated those not returned at 2,500, making a total of 16,220 (d). The last return, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed, appears to have been on the 25th March, 1831.
The present work is founded upon other materials than are scattered in the reports of the several cases in the different Courts, and in two other works (e), written expressly upon this subject, which, though extremely useful at the time of their publication, have now become very insufficient guides, in consequence of the changes which the law has undergone. The author has not, however, relied upon the statements of others, but has uniformly consulted the authorities which are quoted. Besides those sources of information, many cases not reported have been stated from the Order Books in the Lunatic Office (f), and from the Register Book.
The author has to acknowledge the assistance which he has received from Mr. Lowdham, the Secretary of Lunatics, and other Gentlemen, in supplying for this work materials of a practical nature.
(d) Letter to Lord Robert Seymour, September, 1829, p. 68,
where the following particulars are stated:By the returns of the Clerks of the Peace of the several counties of England, it is ascertained that there exist
12,547 By the returns of the Clerks of the Peace in Wales
896 By a return from the Victualling Board, it is found that there are in the Naval Asylum at Haslar......
155 By a return from the Army Medical Department, there are in the Military Asylum at Chatham
13,720 (e) Highmore on Lunacy, 8vo. 1807; Collinson on Lunacy, 2 vols. 8vo. 1812.
(f) The early records of proceedings in lunacy are lost or destroyed; those now in existence in the Lunatic Office commence on the 9th Aug,