Admission registers

This guide was last updated in 2012

Equipped with the basics, it’s time to look for specific records that might mention your ancestor by name – particularly admission registers.

The Who Do You Think You Are? researchers were able to discover the dates of Selina’s admission to the asylum, learning that she had in fact been admitted twice, the second time for life. The cause of her admission, her previous address, her age, state of physical health and much more were recorded, allowing us to be sure that we had found the right person and adding to our existing knowledge about her.

Selina was admitted to the county lunatic asylum in Devon, whose records are held in the county records office in Exeter. From 1845, the system of county asylums was made compulsory, although some had existed earlier, and the records tend to be found in the relevant local archive. A good way to track down the records that you want is through the Access to Archives website and the less well known Hospital Records Database or by checking the catalogue of the county archive in question.

Before 1845, pauper lunatics would have been dealt with under the Poor Laws, while families of means might have found their relative a place in what were known as private madhouses. Records of both are also usually held locally.

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