What was the Lunacy (Scotland) Act 1857?

Introduction

The Lunacy (Scotland) Act 1857 formed mental health law in Scotland from 1857 until 1913.

Refer to Chronology of UK Mental Health Legislation.

Background

Prior to the Lunacy (Scotland) Act, lunacy legislation in Scotland was enshrined in the Madhouses (Scotland) Act 1815 which established the right of Scottish Sheriffs to order the inspection of madhouses. However the Scottish Lunacy Commission inquiry which reported in 1857 found that the official oversight of mental health institutions “remained at best variable and at worst simply inadequate”. It recommended the formation of a “Scottish Lunacy Board” who would address the shortfall in oversight.

Provisions

The legislation created a General Board of Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland.

It also created district boards with the power to establish and operate publicly funded “district asylums” for patients who could not afford the fees charged by existing private and charitable “Royal Asylums”. These existing “Royal Asylums” (with Royal Charters) included the Aberdeen Royal Lunatic Asylum, the Crichton Royal Institution, the Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum, the Royal Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum, the Glasgow Royal Lunatic Asylum, the Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum and James Murray’s Royal Lunatic Asylum.

The aim of the legislation was to establish a network of “district asylums” with coverage throughout Scotland.

Subsequent Legislation

Under the Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act 1913, the General Board of Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland was reconstructed and designated the General Board of Control for Scotland.

Refer to Mental Deficiency Act 1913.

What were the Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland?

Introduction

The Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland or Lunacy Commission for Scotland were a public body established by the Lunacy (Scotland) Act 1857 to oversee asylums and the welfare of mentally ill people in Scotland.

Refer to Chronology of UK Mental Health Legislation, Commissioners in Lunacy for Ireland, and Commissioners in Lunacy.

Previous Bodies

The Madhouses (Scotland) Act 1815 established the right of Scottish Sheriffs to order the inspection of madhouses.

Establishment

The Board of Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland was established in 1857 by the Lunacy (Scotland) Act 1857. There were two Commissioners of Lunacy each paid £1,200 a year and two Deputy Commissioners each paid £600 a year.

Asylums Commissioned

The legislation created a General Board of Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland. It also created district boards with the power to establish and operate publicly funded “district asylums” for patients who could not afford the fees charged by existing private and charitable “Royal Asylums”. These existing “Royal Asylums” (with Royal Charters) were the Aberdeen Royal Lunatic Asylum, the Crichton Royal Institution, the Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum, the Royal Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum, the Glasgow Royal Lunatic Asylum, the Montrose Royal Lunatic Asylum and James Murray’s Royal Lunatic Asylum. The aim of the legislation was to establish a network of “district asylums” with coverage throughout Scotland.

The following asylums were commissioned under the auspices of the Commissioners in Lunacy for Scotland:

  • Aberdeen District Asylum, 1904.
  • Argyll and Bute District Asylum, 1863.
  • Ayrshire District Asylum, 1869.
  • Banff District Asylum, 1865.
  • East Lothian District Asylum, 1866.
  • Edinburgh District Asylum, 1906.
  • Elgin District Asylum, 1835.
  • Fife and Kinross District Asylum, 1866.
  • City of Glasgow District Asylum, 1896.
  • Glasgow Woodilee District Asylum, 1875.
  • Govan District Asylum, 1895.
  • Inverness District Asylum, 1864.
  • Kirklands District Asylum, 1881.
  • Lanark District Asylum, 1895.
  • Midlothian District Asylum, 1874.
  • Paisley District Asylum, 1876.
  • Perth District Asylum, 1864.
  • Renfrew District Asylum, 1909.
  • Roxburgh District Asylum, 1872.
  • Stirling District Asylum, 1869.

In addition the Southern Counties Asylum, which was intended to provide facilities for paupers, was erected on the site of the Crichton Royal Institution (which focused on fee paying patients) in 1849 but subsequently amalgamated with the Crichton Royal Institution. Likewise the Dundee District Asylum, which was intended to provide facilities for paupers, was established alongside the Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum (which focused on fee paying patients) in 1903 but subsequently amalgamated with the Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum.

Successor Body

The Mental Deficiency and Lunacy (Scotland) Act 1913 replaced the Commission with the General Board of Control for Scotland.