What was the Lunacy (Ireland) Act 1821?


The Lunacy (Ireland) Act 1821 formed the basis of mental health law in Ireland from 1821 until 2015.

Refer to Chronology of UK Mental Health Legislation.


Prior to the Lunacy (Ireland) Act, there had been only limited progress with establishing specialist accommodation for the mentally ill in Ireland. The only such facilities were the Eglinton Asylum in Cork and the Richmond Asylum in Dublin.


The legislation authorised the appointment of a Commission of General Control and Correspondence to have oversight of asylums in Ireland. It also gave powers to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to establish and operate publicly funded “district asylums” across the island of Ireland.

Subsequent Legislation

Although the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 made some changes relating to Commissioners in Lunacy, the management of the Estates of Lunatics and for the protection of the property of Lunatics in Ireland, aspects of the legislation remained in force until repealed by the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

What was the Marriage of Lunatics Act 1811?


The Marriage of Lunatics Act (1811) was an act of Parliament of the United Kingdom implemented under the reign of George III of Great Britain.

An Act further to prevent the Marriage of Lunatics.

Refer to Chronology of UK Mental Health Legislation.


It was intended “to prevent the marriage of Lunatics” and make all marriages to Lunatics prior to and after the bill, whether diagnosed before marriage or otherwise, “null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever”.

The Act reads as follows:

Whereas an Act was made in the Parliament of Great Britain in the fifteenth year of the reign of his late Majesty King George the Second to prevent the marriage of lunatics: And whereas it is expedient that the provisions of the said Act should be extended to Ireland: Be it therefore enacted by the King’s most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that from and after the expiration of ten days after the passing of this Act, in case any person who has been or at any time hereafter shall be found a lunatic by any inquisition taken or to be taken by virtue of a commission under the great seal of Great Britain or the great seal of Ireland respectively, or any lunatic or person under a phrenzy, whose person and estate by virtue of any Act of Parliament now or hereafter shall be committed to the care and custody of particular trustees, shall marry before he or she shall be declared of sane mind by the lord high chancellor of Great Britain or Ireland or the lord keeper or lords commissioners of the great seal of Great Britain or Ireland for the time being or such trustees as aforesaid or the major part of them respectively, as the nature of the case shall require, every such marriage shall be and is hereby declared to be null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.


The Act was fully repealed 0n 30 December 2015 by the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015.