[Queen Victoria; Sir James Graham, Home Secretary; Hanwell Lunatic Asylum.] The Queen's Autograph Signature ('Victoria R.'), with Graham's signature, to 'Warrant for the discharge of Dennis Crawley from the Lunatic Asylum for the County of Middlesex'

Queen Victoria (1819-1901); Sir James Graham (1792-1861), Home Secretary, 1841-1846 [Pauper Lunatic Asylum for the County of Middlesex, Hanwell]
Publication details: 
'Given at Our Court of St. James's the Seventeenth day of March 1842 in the Fifth Year of Our Reign.'
SKU: 21811

2pp, foolscap 8vo. On bifolium. In good condition, lightly aged, with thin strip of paper from mount adhering to reverse of second leaf. Good firm signature by the queen ('Victoria R') in the customary place at the head of the first page; and tight signature of the Home Secretary at the end of the document ('Jas G Graham.'). Both signatures over guiding pencil crosses. Seal under paper in left-hand margin of first page. The document ('By Her Majesty's Command') is in a secretarial hand, and is addressed 'To Our Trusty and Wellbeloved The Superintendent of the Lunatic Asylum for the County of Middlesex, and all others whom it may Concern.' (The Superintendent at Hanwell at this time was John Connolly (1794-1866), who introduced the principle of non-restraint of the insane.) The document begins: 'Whereas We did by Warrant under Our Royal Sign Manual bearing date the 3rd day of February 1840, Order and Direct that Dennis Crawley, who was Indicted at a Session of the Central Criminal Court holden on July 1836 for Maliciously Stabbing, and found to be insane, should be removed to the Lunatic Asylum for the County of Middlesex.' The warrant states that 'it hath been humbly represented unto Us that the Said Dennis Crawley is now of sound mind', and that he should be 'forthwith discharged out of Custody'. At foot of first page and as endorsement on reverse of second leaf: 'Warrant for the discharge of Dennis Crawley from the Lunatic Asylum for the County of Middlesex'. Dennis Crawley, an Irish 'coal whipper', would appear to have been a violent schizophrenic. Having spent the previous six years in various lunatic asylums, he had been tried for assault on his wife Catherine at the Old Bailey on 4 July 1836, and found not guilty by reason of insanity. From the distinguished autograph collection of the psychiatrist Richard Alfred Hunter (1923-1981), whose collection of 7000 works relating to psychiatry is now in Cambridge University Library. Hunter and his mother Ida Macalpine had a particular interest in the illness of King George III, and their book 'George III and the Mad Business' (1969) suggested the diagnosis of porphyria popularised by Alan Bennett in his play 'The Madness of George III'.