James E. Moran
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Care and protection
Managing madness in England
in Madness on trial
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This chapter evaluates the ways in which lunacy investigation law powerfully shaped the management and care of the mad in England. The focus is on the period 1700–1820. During this period, lunacy investigation law stood out as the most important among many formal responses to madness in two respects. First, the law of lunacy investigation viewed the wellbeing of the person and property of the lunatic as a priority. This point was reiterated and acted upon constantly by Lord Chancellors in lunacy trials throughout the period under study. Second, the possibility of recovery of those found to be non compos mentis was built into the structure of lunacy investigation law. In their verdicts and recommendations about guardianship arrangements and about the financial arrangements for maintenance, Lord Chancellors thus paid considerable attention to the manner of caring for the insane. Their long deliberations about the nature of madness and its proper form of management further contributed to this influence. The development of this outlook from the experiences of the chancery court was also shaped in part by the families of the insane who initiated court proceedings in the first place, often as part of a struggle over property.

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Madness on trial

A transatlantic history of English civil law and lunacy


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