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far more in touch with nature than we are, with all their Pagan
errors, had a true poetic eye and knew where to select lands to be
consecrated to the solemn rites of funeral services more or less

Geologists have conclusively proved that ages ago Lancaster
Moor formed an ocean bed. An examination of the rocks reveals a
substance of the sedimentary and stratified character, and the ripple-
marks caused by the sandy bed of the sea being left high and dry
by the receding tide, were baked hard by the heat of the sun before
another layer of sand was deposited by the next tide. A new layer
was added by every tide, and even- layer bore upon it the impress
of the wave which last passed over it.

Dr. Prosser's " Rambles by the Lune," published in 1866,
gives excellent antiquarian, chemical, and geologic explanations of
the millstone-grit formations round about Lancaster.




The Lancaster Dispensary and Infirmary— List of Surgeons and Apo'J
(aries connected therewith — county asylum - ll>t 01
.Medical Superintendents, Chaplains, and Stewards— The R«a
Albert Asylum— The Ripley Hospital— The Workhouse— The
Cemetery— The Lune Fishery— Seats Round Lancaster -Ashton
Hall— The Local Press- The Green Lane Murder— Local Cen-
tenarians—Curious Names of Persons in Lancaster — Loi

HERE is evidence that about one hundred
and ten years have elapsed since the estab-
lishment of the Lancaster Dispensary. It
was first founded in a room on the Green
Ay re, and ultimately it was removed to Castle
Hill, and thence to its present quarters in
Thurnham Street. From the Dispensary was
evolved the idea of an Infirmary, and shortly
we hope to see an Institution of the latter
character entirely in keeping - with the growing-
demands and well-being of the county town.

The past Dispensary and Infirmary physicians and surgeons
since the establishment of the Institution are not easily obtained.
In 1812 Dr. Mc.Culloch was appointed physician. About this
period Dr. Johnson became house surgeon, and held the post until
June, 1832, when he retired.* Dr. Thomas Howitt, jun. , succeeded
Dr. Johnson. Dr. De Vitre was chosen physician to this valuable
charity near this date (1832). There appear next the names of Mr. J. S.
Harrison and Mr. Henry Bradshaw, surgeons of this place in 1835.
In 1836 Mr. A. Merryman was house surgeon, and in 1838 Mr. J.
J. Clarkson, followed by Mr. Ricketts. How long Mr. Ricketts
remained I cannot ascertain, nov can I find anything concerning
such appointments as those now under consideration until 1847,

*A Mr. James Winder, who died January 7th, 1831, is said to have been
surgeon for some time. — Lancaster Gazette.


when Dr. Arnott is reported as resigning- the post of physician on
the 17th of April in that year. In 1862 there came Mr. Alexander
Ellis Colquhoun, who, according- to the memorial over his tomb,
was house surgeon seven years. He died December 2nd, 1867,
aged 27. He appears to have been succeeded by Dr. W. Armi-
stead (1868), and then come the following names down to the
present time : — 1869, Dr. R. Lowther ; 1870 to 1872, Dr. R. Atkin-
son ; 1872, Mr. William Berry; 1873, ^ r - J onn M. Scott; 1874,
Mr. John Todd ; and about this period a Mr. Preston. Mr. Todd
relinquished the office in 1877, and was succeeded by Dr. Collis ;
1879, Dr. H. C. Moore; 1881, Dr. H.J. Gilbert; 1883, Mr. W.
M. Storrar ; 1884, Mr. C. W. Dean; 1890, Dr. H. C. Evison, .
present house surgeon. Drs. Whalley, Cassells, Christopher John-
son and Baxendale are all named as members of the Infirmary
medical staff in the year 1814. The Dispensary and House of
Recovery dates from 1781. The locality of the Dispensary was
originally Castle Hill, and prior to this the Green Ayre. The
Dispensary supplies the sick poor with medicine, and affords to
them gratuitously the best medical advice and assistance. A lying-
in charity was established in the year 1807, and according to the
original rule subscribers of 3s. and upwards were entitled to recom-
mend one person as a fit object to be relieved by this society. The
Benevolent Society extends relief to poor women in child-bed, to
whom a sum of 10s. was allowed at each birth ; also to the indus-
trious poor during sickness, and occasional donations were made to
the old and infirm of whatever religious body.

From January 1st, 1784, to January 1st, 1785, there were
admitted 516 patients ; 396 were restored to health, 54 relieved, 1
varied in condition, and 17 died; 48 remained on the books. The
subscriptions and gifts received amounted to ^,125 10s. o)4d. The
amount paid for medicine and to the Apothecary as salary was
^118 3s. 3d. , the balance left in the hands of the Treasurer being

£7 6s - 7 d -

The present accommodation at the Infirmary consists of 38


beds including" some children's cots. The average weekly number
of beds occupied in 1887 was 25 1-3 ' in 1878, the average number

was 8 1-3: in 1879, 9 } A 5 in l88 °- l8 > in l88l > Il J ' - ; m l882 ' 1 9 1 A >
in 1883, 22 ; in 1884, 15^ ; in 1885, 16 ; in 1886, 21 3^. The beds
cost on an average ^'51 15s. each per annum. The total number of
out-door patients in 1888 was 2,832, and ol~ in-patients 391. The
total expenditure of the Institution in J887 was ,£1,665. Dr.
Campbell was among the first of his profession to come forward and
offer his services as a physician gratis. The first Treasurer of this
Institution was Mr. John Barrow, whose successor in 178b (when the
dispensary was completed) was Mr. Richard Walker. The name of
a Mr. Paget appears as apothecary in 1789, also that of a Mr. Bell,
after whom came Mr. Parkinson, who died June 16th, 1801. Then
we have Mr. J. H. Dawson apothecary until 1824, succeeded by a
Mr. W. L. Cock. Readers may wonder why I have given so much
attention to the old Hospital or Infirmary of Lancaster. My answer
is, because this Institution of the county town has not only done
excellent service, but has numbered amongst its officials some very
able representatives of the therapeutic art, and because, as before
remarked, we hope to see a structure worthy of Lancaster ere long
erected in our midst. Our honourable member, always giving, has set
the philanthropic ball rolling, and we hope other friends of the poor
and the afflicted will come forward and follow his benign example.
Wednesday, the 5th of December, 1887, will long stand out as a
prominent day in the annals of Lancaster, for at the public meeting
in the Council Chamber a sum of about ,£,'10,000 was subscribed to
the new Infirmary, the site of which is Springfield Park. The con-
summation of this work devoutly to be wished, will rejoice the
hearts oi' the people of Lancaster.

The County Asylum.

The County Asylum is a very large building, ov pile ot
buildings, containing upwards ol~ 1,000 patients. The original
Institution was erected in 1816, opened on the 28th of Jul)-, ot' that
year, on a portion of the Lancaster Moor, generously given by the


Lancaster Corporation for the purpose, hence the abandonment of the
intention to select a site in the neighbourhood of Bootle, Liverpool.
Many persons thought that Cadley and Fulwood Moors, near
Preston, would have been more central, but the munificence of the
municipal authorities of Lancaster promptly decided the Asylum
Committee to accept their offer, and so the first edifice was erected
from the plan of Mr. Standen, architect, of Lancaster. A few years
ago a second structure, a little beyond the first one, and on the
opposite side of the road, was put up ; and, therefore, the County
Lunatic Asylum occupies fully fifty acres of ground. There is an
underground passage communicating with the two buildings, and
every latest improvement has been introduced both domestically,
sanitarily, and medically. There are excellent pleasure gardens,
walled fruit garden, and laundry attached, while within the build-
ings are spacious galleries enabling the patients to exercise them-
selves when the temperature without is unfavourable to health or
mental condition. Almost every critical kind of derangement has
been treated in this Asylum that one every heard of or could imagine,
and a discriminating system is at all times used, which renders
recovery most probable if probable at all. Here the obstinately taci-
turn, the melancholy monomaniac, and the periodically raving
madman find a home ; and the greatest kindness is evinced by all
the officers and attendants from the worthy medical superintendent,
Dr. Cassidy, downwards. The worst cases are generally those of
the silent or quiet form, and their amendment is usually less easiiy
accomplished than that of the raxing lunatic whose strength during
his dreadful paroxysms is such as to tax the ingenuity of the officials
to overcome. The subjects of religious mania and over-study are
often the most painful to witness, as the diseased imagination conjures
up what I may pardonably describe as the antepast of perdition.
The amusements at the Asylum are varied, many of them being
such as have, or may have, a beneficial influence upon the unhinged
mind. They are, therefore, selected with care, and such games as
are most likely to combat the mental preponderance over the
physical interests, or vice versa, are resorted to. In a word, every-
thing is done that can be done for the welfare of the inmates. A


beautiful chapel is attached for those able to attend, and a most
capacious theatre is formed of the dining-hall, the same having been
erected to suit this double purpose. In the winter months, when
Father Christmas pays his annual call, the officers-, medical and
otherwise, and ladies and gentlemen, directly or indirectly connected
with the place, give amateur performances in which not only is the
costume good and appropriate, but the acting also. The stage is a
very fine one, and had the floor been sloped, and the acoustical
arrangements better, the histrionic element could not have boasted
a more charming rendezvous in England. The management of this
vast habitation of sick intellects is under the direction of a governing
body of visiting county magistrates, and there are physician, super-
intendent, surgeon, matron, treasurer, chaplain, and house steward,
who all fulfil their duties with the regular movement of a clock
pendulum, uninfluenced by any change of temperature. Permission
to view the edifice may readily be obtained by communicating with
the superintendent. The officers are as follow : — Dr. D. M.
Cassidy, superintendent ; Drs. Harbinson, Gemmell, C. Cassidy, and
Morton, assistant surgeons. The matrons are Miss Stacey and
Miss Tweddell, and the clerk to the visiting justices is Mr. William
T. Sharp.

The new annexe was completed in 1SS2, at a cost of jQ 100,000.
The stately portion occupies a prominent position and the area belong-
ing to it represents 41 acres. Mr. A. W. Kershaw was the architect
of this new part, and the Corporation received for the land required
,£8,763 3s. o,d. The list of past superintendents of the Count}'
Asylum is as under :

Dr. Knight, who resigned on the 1st of July, 1824, and was
succeeded by Dr. Davidson, appointed by the sessions at Preston,
during that year. Dr. Probyn, of London, appointed June
30th, 1836, whose successor, in 1840, was Dr. Gaskell, at a salary
of ,£500 per annum. The next superintendent 1 notice is Dr.
Broardhurst, who resigned on the 31st July, 1870, and was followed
by Dr. David Mc.Kaye Cassidy, who commenced duties on the 26th


of July of the year named. In 1875, I nr) d allusions to Dr. Russel
and Dr. Moorish, who were on the medical staff of the Asylum.
The names of Dr. De Vitre and Dr. James Cassels are inseparably
connected with the inauguration of all tbat is good at this spacious
Institute. Dr. Campbell, who retired at the end of 1831, and Dr.
Whalley were visiting physicians whose memories still survive
among us.

The presentesteemed superintendent who maintains, if, indeed,
he has not already extended, the high reputation of this Asylum,
has now, at the period of writing this, 2,000 patients under his care,
or close upon that number.

The following paragraph is taken from a Parliamentary
report published recently. The items give the acreage of the land
belonging to the Asylum — making a distinction between the land
purchased and the land rented — the cost of land purchased, cost
of original constructions, enlargement, expenses, &c. : — " Lancaster
Asylum, opened July 28th, 1816 ; acreage of land belonging to the
Asylum, 115 acres, costing ^"8,811. The site of the Asylum occupies
29 acres, garden and pleasure grounds 24 acres, kitchen garden 9
acres, farm arable 33 acres, pasture 10 acres, and orchard 4 acres.
The expense of building was ,£'347,774, making the total cost, with
land, ,£356,585 ; accommodation, 900 males and 950 females.
Expenses of medical staff : Medical superintendent, ^1,000, with
furnished house, coals, gas, milk, vegetables, and washing, of the
estimated value of ^200 ; first assistant medical officer, ^250, with
furnished apartments and board of the estimated value of ^85 ;
second ditto, ^120, with apartments and board value ,£85 ; third
and fourth, jQi 10 each, and similar allowance. The average cost
of maintenance for each inmate is 6s. 3d. per head." The matrons
of the County Asylum have been, so far as 1 can gather, Mrs.
Knight, appointed October 12th, 181 5 ; Miss Eleanor Slater, who
died in 1838, and was succeeded by Miss Mary Lambert; Mrs.
Proctor, Miss Palmer, Miss Bishops, and Miss Sothcott, after whom
came Miss Stacey, and Miss Tweddell, who are the present matrons.


From the Lonsdale Magazine of February, 1821, these parti-
culars are taken concerning the Asylum. They were supplied by
Mr. Paul Knight, who wrote a descriptive account of the Institution
as it was in his time, and says : — There were two keepers to each
gallery, but no watch to the female apartments, and the weekly
food allowance at this period was as follows : — Men : beef, 35 oz.
bread, 45 oz. ; flour, 12 oz. ; oatmeal, 29 oz. ; potatoes, 10 lbs.
milk, 7 pints; beer, 7 pints. Women :— beef, 35 oz.; bread, 52 oz
flour, 12 oz.; oatmeal, 15 oz. ; potatoes, 10 lbs. ; milk, 4)4 pints ;
beer, 5^ pints ; coffee, 1 oz. ; sugar, 2 oz., and butter, 8 oz. Since
the 28th July, 18 1 6, to November, 24th, 1820, the admissions were :—
Men, 197 ; Women, 142 : total, 339. Discharged cured — men, 61 ;
women, 34 ; total, 95. Discharged by request — men, 9 ; women,
21 ; total, 30." The article is dated 24th November, 1820.

Chaplains of the County Asylum.

The Rev. David Umpleby, appointed on the 13th November,
1823. The Rev. F. B. Danby, appointed 26th January, 1846, died
on the 1 st October, 1857. The Rev. Thomas Clarke Onion, M.A.,
appointed in February, 1858, died on the 16th April, 1S78. The
Rev. E. P. Marriott, present chaplain, appointed July 6th, 1878.

Stewards of the Asylum.

Mr. Thomas Ripley, who died on the first of September,
1826, aged 41, and whose remains lie in Tatham Churchyard,
appears to have been the first steward. Mr. John Shaw, appointed
on the 17th of October, 1826, resigned on the 4th of May, 1852.
He was succeeded by Mr. Henry Shaw, assistant steward, appointed
assistant on the 5th of April, 1841, and steward on the 4th of May,
1852; resigned on the nth of November, 1871. Mr. Shaw was
succeeded by Mr. Peter Dutton, steward and treasurer, who still
worthilv fulfils the duties of the two offices.


The Royal Albert Idiot Asylum.

A stately edifice on the south side of the town is the Royal
Albert Idiot Asylum for idiots and imbeciles of the seYen northern
counties. It is situated on what is known as the Cockerham Road,
is in the Gothic style of architecture, and coYers an area of about
seventy acres. The Duke of Devonshire, of Holker Hall, Cartmel,
Lancashire, formally opened "The Boys' Wing" on the 14th of
September, 1870. In honour of the munificent gift of ^"30,000,
towards the great fabric by Mr. Brooke, a Yorkshire gentleman, this
portion is styled "The Brooke Wing." The Asylum was completed
in the year 1873. It is a most imposing structure, standing in a
thoroughly park-like enclosure, relieved by numerous beds of flowers.
The building is constructed for the reception of 600 inmates, exclud-
ing resident officials, and there are now about 500 patients within
its walls. There are two orders o( patients — the paying patients
and those admitted for seven years by the votes of the subscribers ;
330 patients belong to this latter order, being dependent for support
upon public philanthropy. "The cost of maintenance averages
to nearly thirty guineas per head per annum ; therefore, an annual
income of ^10,400 is necessary to aid these cases alone. Unfor-
tunately, we learn that the yearly subscriptions only reach to about
,£4,000, and, were it not for the interest upon legacies and donations
invested in railways and other securities, and the fact that the inmates
themselves by their own labour contribute a considerable sum, the
institution would be wofully short of funds." A donation of five
guineas entitles the donor thereof to one vote for life, in the election
of patients, and an annual subscription of a guinea entitles the sub-
scriber to two annual votes. The vote increases in the same
proportion for higher donations or subscriptions. The epileptic,
paralvtic, insane, or incurably hydrocephalic, are inadmissible, as
also are idiotic children whose idiocy is complicated with blindness
or deafness. Visitors, who may visit the Asylum on Mondays and
Thursdays from 11 to 3, will be much interested in the various
methods resorted to in order to infuse truer life and aimful attention
in the poor idiot children who are here to be seen. " Bags of beans


are thrown by a teacher at a boy who has no notion of catching
them until his hitherto vacant gaze becomes fixed upon the place
whence they are sent, then he raises his hands in self defence,
and thus proves himself capable of attending" to some particular
movement which has had effect upon him. Again, a girl whose
finsrers are crowded as if in a bunch is set to thread beads on a needle
until there is a like power of concentration, and in another direction
a girl may be seen taught to walk, for she has had no knowledge
of the art of walking or what feet were for, and so she is being-
instructed how to place one foot before another, how to lift her feet
from one strip of wood to another, the strips being arranged in the
form of a ladder laid down upon the floor. She practises on these
broad strips until she can carry a cup oi' water from one end to the
other without spilling it. All the inmates are treated according to
their peculiar bias, and in some of them a spirit of inquiry and an
energy is developed enabling them to take up with something which
indicates the kind of labour they may ultimately be most adapted
for. Thus several young men become really good tailors, others
good gardeners, in a manual sense, and others, again, very fair
fieldmen and haymakers. " The baker and the butcher have their
idiot assistants, and the major part of the storekeeper's duties of
weighing out groceries and keeping an account are performed by an
idiot whose forte is calculation." Mat-making and hair-picking are
two other branches of industry which are pursued by the inmates
with no small degree of excellence in many instances. Kitchen work
and cleaning are the principal duties of the females when capable of
undertaking the same. We leave this wonderful Institution with
many strange thoughts and picture in our minds the odd profiles
that have met our gaze within its walls.

From the Bradford Weekly Telegraph of December 26th,
1886, the following extracts are taken in addition to other facts
supplied direct to the author by the courteous Secretary of the

" It was in the year 1864 that the desirability of starting a
small Asylum for idiots was pressed upon the attention of Dr. de


Vitre, an eminent physician in Lancaster, who, as consulting-
physician to the Lancaster County Lunatic Asylum, and in general
practice, had had much experience in the treatment of the insane.
Mr. James Brunton, a quiet unpretending Friend of very moderate
means, with whom the idea appears to have originated, lost no
opportunity of talking over the subject with his acquaintances, but
all looked to Dr. de Vitre, who was not immediately convinced of
the feasibility of the idea, to give the project definite form and
earnest advocacy. Mr. Brunton offered a donation of ,£2,000, a
most munificent contribution for a person in his circumstances ; and
he thought that the pressing necessities of the case might be met
by renting a house and admitting some half-dozen patients to be
comfortably taken care of. But this conception was altogether too
limited for Dr. de Vitre, who made himself familiar with the noble
work for ameliorating the condition of the idiotic and imbecile,
which was being successfully carried on at the Earlswood Asylum,
Redhill, and at the Eastern Counties' Asylum, Colchester. An
institutory meeting was held in the Shire Hall, Lancaster, on the
21st of December, 1864, when, with the late Sir J. P. Kay-Shuttle-
worth, as High Sheriff, in the chair, the project was fairly launched,
the resolution proposing its establishment having been moved by
the present Chairman of the Institution, Lord Winmarleigh (then
Colonel Wilson-Patten, M.P.) A Central Committee was formed,
with Dr. de Vitre as its able and eloquent chairman. Mr. James
Diggens was soon afterwards appointed secretary. The first
business was to procure funds for the purchase of land and for the
erection of a suitable building. Public meetings were held, and
local committees were organised in all the principal towns of the
seven associated counties. Pamphlets and other literature, setting
forth in an attractive manner the objects aimed at, were widely
distributed ; and the newspaper press gave the proposed institution
its earnest support. Many influential gentlemen joined the Central
Committee, which at first consisted of only ten Lancaster members,
whose hearty and self-denying interest, however, inspired confi-
dence. An estate of 42 acres was purchased from the Local Charity
Trustees, and it has gradually grown into one of not less than 105



The Royal Albert Asylum is charmingly situated on an
eminence of about 1 50 feet above the level of the sea, and on a
bright summer day commands some of the finest views and ' the
amplest range of unobstructed prospect ' in this fair sea-girt isle.
Looking" to the west in front of the building is the Irish Sea, with
its silvery bosom glistening in the sun ; the lazy Lune in crescent
form meanders seaward through rich pasture lands ; and Morecambe
Bay, with its glowing sheen and lovely shores, is like a splendid
vision of beauty. To the north are the Coniston and Langdale
Mountains in soft purple haze, and Black Combe ' to far-travelled
storms of sea and land, a favourite spot of tournament and war,'
and overlooking the Ripley Hospital and John o'Gaunt's ' embattled
pile,' mighty Helvellyn lifts its lofty brow among the gigantic
mountains. On the east are the high fells above the forest of
Bolland ; while southwards stretches the wide and well-cultivated
Fylde district, with Fleetwood bounding the view. Here, then,
nature lavishly displays charms of the most diversified scenery of
sea and river, mountain and dale, meadow and grove.

Of nature's works,
In earth, and air, and earth-embiaciny sea,
A revelation infinite it seems.

Standing above the mists of the valley, and with mountain
air and brisk sea breezes, weighted with ozone, blowing around it,
what situation could be more salubrious than that of the Royal Albert
Asylum ; and if the training of the imbecile consists ' in awakening
his dormant senses, in creating in him the seeing eye and the hear-
ing ear,' surely here, amidst scenes of beauty and grandeur, are
stimulating influences capable of quickening intelligence and in-
visroratingf feeble muscles and enervated nerves ! The Asylum
satisfies the condition originally urged by the late Dean of York, of

Online LibraryCross FleuryTime-honoured Lancaster ... Historic notes on the ancient borough of Lancaster → online text (page 34 of 55)