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Geneageek: Lunatic in the Family Update

Monday, 26 October 2009

Lunatic in the Family Update

I received a quick and detailed email back from the archivist at the Grampian Archives, who searched the Asylum (& Poorhouse) records for me. The information she has given me from the admission registers, has enabled me to put some more pieces of Agnes' life together.

Agnes was admitted into the Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum on Christmas Day (!) 1888. She was 81 and a recently widowed pauper. Her husband, Arthur had died in August earlier that year. According to the records, Agnes had suffered from her dementia for 12 years, having her first 'attack' when she was 69.

It seems as though the family were unable to care for Agnes after Arthur's death and admitted her into the asylum.

Six months later, Agnes' condition had not improved and she was transferred to the Lunatic wards of the Buchan Poorhouse. Her physical condition was described as 'very weak' and she was suffering from heart disease and bronchitis along with her 'mental decay'. She was 'sent back' to the Lunatic Asylum another six months later as her condition had not improved. Her disorder was now recorded as "mania, senile" caused by age and heredity. She lived in the asylum for about 3 and a half years before dying in early May 1893. A post mortem examination was carried out and the cause of death recorded as senile decay. She was 85 years old.

opened January 1869
source: workhouses.org.uk

The archivist has very helpfully offered to send me copies of the petitions to the Sheriff for Mrs Buchan’s admission to the asylum. I am told these include statements by two doctors giving reasons for committing the patient to hospital and can sometimes also contain additional information about the patient’s background. She has also offered to send me the case notes.

I also want to thank 'The Professional Descendant' who gave very helpful advice on this issue in the comments section of the last post. If you are after more information on this, make sure you read her comments here.

Next steps:
* Check 1881 census for family members living there at the time, possibly caring for Agnes
* Obtain more information from the petitions and case notes

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