28 February 2019

28th February 1883 - Asylums better than alternative care


On Wednesday 28th February 1883 there was a report in the Fife Herald concerning Henry Wickham.

At Chester, Wickham was brought to court as a wandering vagrant. In apparent distress Wickham told the court how he knew George Washington and Christopher Columbus and was married to the handsomest woman in Philadelphia. On the judges instruction he was taken to the county asylum where he was recognised by staff, having already been an inmate there. The Chief Constable then looked into the matter further and found that Wickham had stayed in asylums more than forty times.

The newspaper called him a swindler and an extraordinary imposter. It appears that Wickham feigned delusions as he preferred the meat and puddings that he received at the asylum over the poor fare dished up in casual wards or county jails. A number of other newspapers and journals repeated the same story.

The St James Gazette went on to say that this incident speaks highly for the treatment of patients in public asylums.

Thankyou to the British Newspaper Archive for this date.

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