Madness Monday: a little light relief in the asylum records

25 May

I finally got the permission I was after to view the records I was after and proceeded to order them at the East Sussex Record Office. This was the case book which covered George Thomas GASSON’s time at Hellingly asylum, Sussex from the 29th October 1903 to his death on the 9th May 1922.

This case book (ESRO HE 26/2) was in much the same format as the previous one I had viewed, except the pages were much larger in size (about double the size).

The first page contained details of his mental and physical condition as well as his personal details (which were the same as those from Haywards Heath asylum). The next page and the extra page towards the back of the book contained the “progress of case”, basically similar notes as previously recorded at various intervals.

Much of the first page was not filled out, presumably because he was not a new admission, but had been transfered from Haywards Heath. The most interesting part was the mental assessment that was carried out on the 2nd November 1903.

George Thomas was described as:

a dull looking man with a perplexed appearance. gives name & spells surname. age “somewhere over 50” Has lost day of week & month & year. came here a few days back was at H.H. 8 yrs. Is restless & fidgets as he talks “a woman full up twice in the place since I  left, don’t you know what it means” speaks thinly, rapidly & indistinctly Quiet and unoccupied since admission. (2ry Dtia)

It didn’t help that the like most of the other notes, punctuation and capitalization were largely missing, but it painted another sad picture of confused but probably harmless old man, with secondary dementia.

One phrase in that description made me laugh, I’m not sure if it was out loud but it certainly brought a smile to my face. When I read gives name & spells surname, I felt like I had made a connection with him, I have been doing that all my life!

Here over a hundred years earlier my 2x great grandfather was doing the same thing. Whether he was prompted to spell it, or whether like me he always spelt it out when I gave it to someone I will never know. But for a moment that shared action made me realise that I did share something in common with him. It still makes me chuckle when I think about it now.

[to be continued]

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