The North Wales Hospital’s records are held by Denbighshire Archives Service. The collection is one of the most comprehensive examples of asylum records in the country. The hospital was known by various names during its existence- The North Wales Lunatic Asylum, The North Wales Counties Lunatic Asylum, The North Wales Counties Mental Hospital and The North Wales Mental Hospital.
The collection includes administrative records such as minutes and annual reports plus a fantastic collection patient records, from 1848 when the hospital opened and until the establishment of the NHS in 1948, and which have been used to research the care and treatment of patients and attitudes to mental illness.
Included in the patient records are a large number of reception orders which are bundled in chronological sequence. Reception orders provide evidence that the patient was ‘certified insane’ and include details of the patient’s behaviour prior to admission. Certification required the signature of two magistrates and the medical opinion of an approved doctor.
Patient number 5070: Reception order for Samuel Parry dated 7th March 1896
[Please click on images to enlarge]
Below are the observations of the medical practitioner describing Samuel Parry’s behaviour –
“He is much depressed and cries almost continually. He was crying when I visited him today and also yesterday. When he was asked what he was crying for he gave a very silly and incoherent answer, something about buying a penny paper and he had not paid for it. All his conversation is incoherent.”
From the reception order, we can see that Samuel Parry lived in Broughton and entered the hospital as a pauper patient funded by Wrexham Poor Law Union. He was just 19 years old and had worked as a collier’s labourer. He entered the North Wales Hospital on 7th March 1896 and remained there until discharged (recovered) on 22nd June the same year.
Reception orders can be used along with other patient records such as admission registers and case notes to discover more about the person’s symptoms and treatment.
Unfortunately, the catalogue for this collection is not available online, and can only be consulted in our office. These records are free to view at our office, however records which were created during the last 100 years are closed due to NHS patient confidentiality regulations. We are currently working with volunteers to create a comprehensive index of reception orders to make searching the 16,000 + records much easier for researchers.
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