Document referenceQAL(C)
TitleRecords of the County Lunatic Asylum : North Riding Quarter Sessions
DescriptionThis sub-series consists of records relating to the County Lunatic Asylum, including:

- copy resolution of Quarter Sessions to build an asylum at Northallerton [1815]

- plans and description of proposed lunatic asylum (?at Northallerton) [1816]

- North and East Riding Lunatic Asylum cash book [1856-1878]

- papers relating to the building and financing of the County Lunatic Asylum at Clifton (including accounts and letters) and the maintenance of the inmates [1841-1881]

- reports of the Committee of Visitors of the Lunatic Asylum [1847-1939]

- copy reports and letters [1847-1891]

- notice of deaths in the County Lunatic Asylum [1887]

- plans of the County Lunatic Asylum with some reports, specifications and papers [?c. 1845, 1888]
Catalogue statusCatalogued
Administrative historyActs of 1808 (48 George III cap. 96) and 1828 (9 George IV cap. 40, s. 2) , as well as later Acts, empowered the Justices of the Peace to provide a county asylum for lunatic paupers and to join with other counties for this purpose.

The County Lunatic Asylum at Clifton, near York, run and financed jointly by the North and East Ridings, was opened in 1847. Moves had been made as early as 1810 to build such an asylum for the North Riding at Northallerton, presumably under the 1808 Act. Notice of a proposal for an asylum for pauper and criminal lunatics was made at the end of 1810 and an order for such and asylum was made at Easter Sessions 1811 and a Committee to superintend its erection appointed in January 1812. In October 1812 the Justices ordered the Chief Constables (of the wapentakes) to submit lists of lunatics by January 1813. They were only to include those who needed confinement or strict watching and this was probably to enable the Justices to estimate the right size for an asylum and the probable demands on it. The Chief Constables had been required to make similar returns previously both in 1810 and 1811 (presumably for similar reasons). By the end of 1813 and the beginning of 1814 plans had been prepared and tenders invited and received. Nothing definite seems to have come of this, as advertisements for plans for an asylum were ordered in July 1815. The building proposed at this date was to hold forty people and to be capable of expansion, if necessary. A committee to negotiate for a site and for the erection of a building was appointed. Very little is known about its activities but is was still in existence in 1816, when additional members were appointed. The scheme for an asylum in Northallerton came to nothing, although it is not very clear why and the proposed asylum was not erected. Plans had in fact been supplied in 1815 in response to the advertisements and the Justices were still considering claims for remuneration for these as late as 1822. They included one from Mr Bonomi (Joseph Bonomi the younger, 1796-1878) at Michaelmas Sessions 1821. At the next Sessions (January 1822) the Justices ordered the payment of fifty guineas to him for plans and estimates approved of and accepted by the Justices.

Further moves for the provision of an asylum were made in 1838 and 1839 when proposals to raise a rate in the North Riding to assist the East Riding and the City of York to build an asylum were made. These came to nothing. At the end of 1841, however, the appointment of a Committee to report on the propriety of joining with the East Riding in the erection of an asylum was proposed. Such a Committee was appointed during 1842 and reported on the matter in January 1843. After considering the numbers of lunatics both in the North and East Ridings, the Committee recommended that 'a public lunatic asylum would afford the most secure means of speedy and permanent cure to the Insane Poor of the North Riding'. A Committee of Justices to negotiate with the Justices of any of the adjoining counties or the Committee of a voluntary asylum to carry into effect the provisions of the Act of 1828 and to build a County Lunatic Asylum was accordingly formed at Easter 1843.

Negotiations with the East Riding Justices were begun and an agreement for the building of an asylum was made in December 1843. This was received by the North Riding Justices at Christmas Sessions 1844 (January) and a Committee of Visitors 'to superintend the building, erection, and management of a Lunatic Asylum for the North and East Ridings' was appointed. The building went forward and was completed in 1847.

The administration of the County Lunatic Asylum was supervised by the Justices through a Committee of 'Visitors' who reported to Quarter Sessions from time to time. This until 1865 was a Committee appointed by the North and East Ridings jointly. After this date, when the East Riding Justices purchased an estate near Beverley to erect a lunatic asylum of their own, the administration of the Asylum at Clifton was the concern of the North Riding alone and the Union between the North and East Ridings for this purpose was dissolved. After 1888 and the formation of the County Council, the 'Visitors' were appointed by the County Council. Later building, alterations and additions at he Asylum took place from time to time and records relating to these are to be found within this sub-series.

The Asylum was used not only for pauper lunatics but also for other 'Private' patients who contributed to their keep.
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