The New Lunacy Act of 1857 allowed for all insane persons in Scotland to be admitted to an asylum. This was to be a separate institution from Poor Houses or hospitals where the insane had been prior to 1857. This also standardized the reporting procedures for those with mental health issues who were in need of institutional care. Annual reports were filed by the Commissioners of the General Board of Lunacy.
The General Register of Lunatics in Asylums is a chronological list of names of patients already in asylums as of January 1, 1858. All new admissions up until 1978 were added to the Register. The Register includes details such as:
- date of admission
- name of asylum
- date of discharge or death
- recovered/relieved/not improved/incurable
- in whose care the patient was discharged
- any observations
Other records to be consulted in regards to researching your Scottish lunatic ancestor are the Admission Registers and Notices of Admissions by the Superintendent of the Mental Institutions. These are a virtual treasure trove of genealogical information. These records include details on the patient and their circumstances such as:
- the 'supposed cause' of the mental illness
- observations of two physicians
- information received by the physicians regarding the mental illness (prior to institutionalization)
General Register of Lunatics in Asylum registers are available at the National Records of Scotland. As well, the local council archives for the area where the institution was housed often have the Admission Registers for that specific institution. Note that there is a strict 00 year closure period due to the sensitive nature of the information contained within the records. If your ancestor was in an institution within this 100 years, you must be able to prove both their death and your relationship to the patient.
In 1859, The Society for Education of Imbecile Youth in Scotland established a residential training school for mental defective children. In May 1863, The first dormitory of the Scottish National Institution for the Education of Imbecile Children was opened. This was to be for children who had a congenital mental defect and who were thought to be able to learn with proper educational programming within a special setting. The children, generally, were between the ages of six and twelve years.
The patient records for the Scottish National Institution for the Education of Imbecile Children are housed at the University of Stirling Archives and include:
- Defectives notices of admission.
- Defectives notices of admission to guardianship.
- Recertification papers: mental defectives in certified institutions.
- Transfers from establishments to private dwellings.
These records are also subject to a 100 year closure period due to the sensitive nature of the information contained within them. Again, if your ancestor was in this institution within the 100 years, then you must be able to prove their death and your relationship to the inmate.