[George IV as Prince Regent, and former Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth as Home Secretary.] Warrant Signed by 'George P R.' and 'Sidmouth', directing that Matthias Maher be removed from the Lunatic Asylum in St George's Fields to Newgate Prison.

George IV as Prince Regent; Lord Sidmouth [Henry Addington, 1st Viscount Sidmouth] (1757-1844), Prime Minister; William Erasmus Hardy of Newgate Prison; Matthias Maher [Transportation; Australia]
George IV as Prince Regent
Publication details: 
'Given at Our Court at Carlton House the Thirty first day of July 1819, in the Fifty ninth Year of Our Reign.'
SKU: 21810

This document, signed by George IV as Prince Regent, and by the former Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth as Home Secretary, relates to Matthias Maher (1798-1865), a Royal Navy officer who was twice tried at the Old Bailey on a charge of forgery. On the first occasion, 6 May 1818, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity; and removed to the criminal asylum in St George's Fields. Maher was found sound of mind – as the present document reveals by Sir George Leman Tuthill (1772–1835) and Edward Wright (c.1788-1859), the latter to die of disgrace in Australia. He was tried a second time on 15 September 1819, when he was convicted and sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to transportation for life, and he left England on the Earl St Vincent on 12 April 1820, arriving in Australia on 16 August 1820. In Australia Mathias served as a Constable in D’Arcy Wentworth’s police force at Parroquet Hill, helping to suppress the Parramatta bushrangers. 2pp, foolscap 8vo. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged and worn. Folded twice. Good firm signature of the Prince Regent at head of first page: 'George P R.' Above this, in a small hand: 'In the Name and on the Behalf of His Majesty.' Royal Seal under paper in left-hand margin of first page. Signed at end of document by the former Prime Minister Lord Sidmouth, now Home Secretary: 'Sidmouth'. Beneath this, at the foot of the second page: 'Receid 7 August 1819 the body of the abovenamed Matthias Maher | W. E. Hardy, for Mr Brown Keeper of Newgate'. (William Erasmus Hardy (c.1773-1838) was 'clerk of the papers in the gaol of Newgate'.) Forty-line document, in a secretarial hand, addressed 'To Our Trusty and Wellbeloved The Right Worshipful The Resident and Treasurer and the Worshipful The Governors of Bethlem Hospital.' The document begins: 'Whereas at a Sessions holden at the Old Bailey on the 6th day of May 1818 Matthias Maher stood Indicted for several Felonies and Forgeries, and upon [his] Arraignment thereon, was found by [a] Jury, lawfully Impannelled for the purpose to be Insane, so that he could not be tried upon the said Indictment, and was therefore […] ordered to be kept in strict Custody, in Our Gaol of Newgate until Our Pleasure should be known. […]' The document states that on 14 May 1818 Maher was 'removed to the Building erected in St. George's Fields, in the County of Surrey, situate on the side of Bethlem Hospital, for the better Care and Custody of Insane Persons charged with or Convicted of Criminal Offences', and that 'George L. Tuthill Esqr, M.D. and Edward Wright Esqr M.D.' have now certified that 'Maher is become Sane'. At foot of first page and endorsed on reverse of second leaf: 'Warrant to remove Matthias Maher back to the Gaol of Newgate from the Criminal Lunatic Asylum in St. George's Fields.' 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'.