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In the Spotlight: Relatives 1

25 July 2011

We are about halfway through our 2011 series of blog posts that put former patients of note In the Spotlight. This month and next we are taking a slight detour from the original rationale of the series in order to highlight a number of Bethlem patients who are rather less well known than one or more of their relatives. Their ‘celebrity’, such as it was, was unsought, and theirs was a reflected glory. This month we focus on relatives of four people associated with Bethlem or the Maudsley; next month we turn our attention to relatives of people who were otherwise in the public eye.

George William Dadd was admitted to Bethlem in the same year (1843) as his artist brother Richard, Richard being of course one of Bethlem’s most notable patients, the subject of an ongoing exhibition at Orleans House Gallery in Twickenham and a new book by Nicholas Tromans. Like his brother, George spent the remainder of his life in hospital, dying in 1868; unlike him, he had committed no crime and was not confined in Bethlem’s Criminal Lunatic Department. Security was such in this ward that it is unlikely that the brothers ever met in hospital, despite being under the one roof.

Anna Maria Haydon was admitted as a Hospital patient in 1866 and, like the younger Dadd, stayed there until her death in 1899. She was the sister of George Henry Haydon, long-serving Bethlem Steward, one-time colonial explorer and author of Five Years in Australia Felix (London, 1846). Anna’s thirty-three year stay in an institution that divested itself of most of its uncured patients on after twelve months is probably an index of the esteem in which her brother was held throughout the Hospital. There is more about Haydon (George, that is) in the Australian Dictionary of National Biography.

Frances Ada Hood, daughter-in-law to Dr W. Charles Hood, Bethlem’s reforming Resident Physician of the 1850s, was brought for admission to the Hospital by her husband Basil Hood on 31 December 1887. Like Anna Haydon, she did not recover at Bethlem. Unlike her, however, she did not remain there. Despite representations made by the Lunacy Commissioners for an extension to her stay in consideration of the services her father-in-law had rendered to the Hospital, she was discharged uncured after twelve months, and transferred to Berry Wood Asylum in Northamptonshire, staying there 26 years before a further transfer to Coton Hill Hospital in Stafford.

Mary Mapother was a Bethlem patient for two months at the age of thirty-five in 1908, and for a later three-year period. She also had periods of residence in Burgess Hill Hospital in Sussex and Coton Hill Hospital in Stafford. Her 1908 admission papers were signed by her younger brother Edward, then a medical student at University College Hospital. Later that year, Edward joined the staff of Long Grove Asylum, where he worked until the outbreak of the First World War. After distinguished service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, Edward was appointed by the Ministry of Pensions to run the Maudsley Hospital, which had been requisitioned by the military. Then, when the Maudsley was turned over to civilian use in the early 1920s, he was re-appointed by London County Council as the Maudsley’s medical superintendent, a post which he held throughout the remainder of that decade and the entirety of the one that followed. Edward Mapother is generally credited with setting the new hospital on a course which led to an international reputation for excellence in psychiatric research and teaching as well as clinical practice. The fact of his sister Mary’s admission to Bethlem in the closing months of his medical training raises the intriguing possibility that the experience of mental distress within Edward’s own family had some bearing upon the trajectory of his eminent medical career.

Charles Hood

Photograph of Sir William Charles Hood

Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives & Museum

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