Family History Federation

Register of Lunatic Paupers – Axminster to Hemiock Hundreds – 1828

This booklet was compiled by members of the Devon Family History Society in co-operation with the Devon Records Office. The booklet provides an extract of some information and further details may be obtained from the Devon Records Office. The information in this register, from the Devon County Quarter Sessions records, is set out by hundred and then in alphabetical order of parish. Some parishes have no lunatics at all. In the case of those which have, much detail is provided about that person: their name, age and sex, whether they are classed as an idiot or a lunatic, whether they are dangerous or not, the length of time they have been ‘disordered’, whether or not they are confined and the expense of keeping them. The overseers were not asked to give a medical diagnosis apart from specifying if the pauper was an idiot (having learning disabilities) or a lunatic (mentally ill), nor is there any attempt to define the severity of the disability or illness; the crucial fact was that the pauper was unable to maintain him, or her, self and was reliant on parish assistance. This book is useful for family historians for the additional information it provides about people and their lives at a time before descriptions of households become available with the census. Finding an ancestor’s name in the register may reveal that an elderly person was cared for by a married daughter or explain why a family was receiving poor relief. It may be possible to find out more about these lunatics and those who cared for them by reading the account books of the overseers of the poor for the parishes where the lunatics were settled.


SKU : D064

Skip to content