Identity area

Reference code





  • 1796-1929 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

42 boxes

Context area

Name of creator

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

This series initially comprises the handwritten letters received from medical practitioners certifying as to the mental illness of patients admitted. These are filed in chronological order (although sometimes they can be slightly out of sequence)

From 18 May 1818, pre-printed certificates were used by the Retreat, with queries as to name, age, occupation, marital status, supposed cause of insanity, how long attack has lasted, whether first attack, details of previous attacks, whether disease congenital, anything peculiar about previous manner or mental weakness approaching idiotism, whether and what medical means have been employed, whether patient has been in a public hospital or private institution for the insane, details of bodily health, whether refusing food or wanting to injure himself/herself, who is chargeable for quarterly accounts and to whom they should be sent, and signed certification by a medical practitioner

From September 1828, a new, amended version of this form was used in accordance with new legislation which requested the certificates of two medical practitioners, and required certificates to be dated not more than 14 days before the reception of the patient. The new form thus asked for details of the person by whose authority the patient had been examined as well as details about the two medical practitioners signing the form. The information about the patient remained similar to before

In later years, the format of the form varied slightly but essentially contained the same sort of detail. From the 1830s, a pre-printed letter of agreement of admission to the Retreat was included. After the 1845 Lunacy Act, the paperwork on admission complied with the requirements of the Act, ie a reception order with the certificates of two medical practitioners and a statement of particulars of the patient. As time went on this paperwork became slightly more detailed, as it complied with the requirements of subsequent legislation, notably the 1890 Lunacy Act. A form also had to be supplied if a patient was being transferred from another institution, and some of the later volumes in the series include a few of these type of forms

The admission papers consist of between approximately one to four pages for each patient. The Retreat bound these loose papers into volumes, presumably to make them easier to handle and refer to


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Access to some material is restriced under data protection laws. Restricted items are at RET 6/1/23, RET 6/1/24, RET 6/1/25, RET 6/1/26, RET 6/1/27, RET 6/1/28, RET 6/1/29, RET 6/1/30, and RET 6/1/31.

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places