[Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister, as Home Secretary.] Autograph List of appointments by him of Lunacy Commissioners (following on from the 1828 Madhouse Act), with Autograph Note by him on the matter.

Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), Tory Prime Minister and creator of the Metropolitan Police ('Peelers') [Metropolitan Lunacy Commission; 1828 Madhouse Act]
Publication details: 
[Home Office, Whitehall; 1828.]
SKU: 21562

In August 1828, following the passing of the 1828 Madhouse Act, the Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel established a commission to oversee London's madhouses, consisting of five physicians, six Middlesex JPs, and ten other honorary (i.e. unpaid) commissioners. The present document by Peel casts interesting light on the process of appointment. It is on both sides of 18 x 23 cm piece of paper, evidently used as envelope for 'the Instrument' mentioned in Peel's note. Aged, and with tear and hole caused by breaking open of seal. Folded twice. On one side, in the panels made by the folding of the envelope, is the note: 'I have signed the Instrument for the appointment of the Lunatic Commissioners & I return it. | Have the names carefully inserted. I had begun to write them out but was not quite sure as to the correct designation - | See my List on the back of this envelope. I fear I have too many Members of Parliament therefore I have added the name you suggest of Hon. B. Bouverie & also that of Sir George Hampson – or Hampston – whom Gordon mentioned – You shewed me the name – or Mr. Capper [John Capper, Head Clerk at the Home Office] did in the Red book | You had better have the name of Dr. Turner inserted although he has not answered my Letter - | Have notes with my Compts. Addressed to Mr Bouverie - & Mr George Hampston – stating that I have taken the Liberty of including their names'. On the other side of the document – making 1p, 8vo – is Peel's list of sixteen non-medical commissioners, beginning with 'Lord Granville Somerset | Robert Gordon Esqr.' and ending with 'The Honble. B. Bouverie | Col. Clitherow'. Beside each name, in another hand, is an amended form of address for the individual, beginning with 'Lord Granville Charles Henry Somerset' and ending with Colonel James Clitherow'. At the foot of the page (in a line of surnames with Christian names beneath) are the names of the five medical commissioners: 'Bright [John], Drever [Thomas], Hume [John R], Southey [Henry H], Turner [Thomas]'. 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'.