Institution Information - Tranent Asylum

Parish/County: Tranent, East Lothian

Alternative Names: George Davie's Asylum, Tranent; 'Tranent Royal Asylum'

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Locating Records for this institution

For people admitted to Scottish Mental Health institutions from 1 January 1858 a record usually survives in the ‘Notices of Admissions by the Superintendent of the Mental Institutions’ which are held by the National Records of Scotland. We are creating an index to these records and can assist you in searching the unindexed period. Search our index here or read more about the project here.

Records kept by this private institution do not seem to have survived. If you learn of anything concerning the survival or whereabouts of these records, please contact us.

Text from 1857 Royal Commission Report

“TRANENT ASYLUM; George Davie, Proprietor; Visited 12th July 1855.

The house stands in the principal street of Tranent, and has been used as an asylum for about two years. At the date of our visit it contained 11 patients, viz.,—5 males and 6 females. With one exception they are all parish paupers, and all pay at the rate of £20 a year, including clothing; but attempts 'are being made to get patients of a higher class.

The attendants consist of Mr. Davie, his wife, a lad who receives £6 a year, a woman at £5 a year, and a girl at £2, 10s. a year. The last has charge of the children. It is calculated that about thirty patients might be accommodated.

The furniture of the house is exceedingly scanty, and betrays a want of capital. The bedsteads are evidently of home manufacture, being made of rough boards, and of all shapes and sizes. Some are broad and short, others narrow like chests. The bedding is generally tolerably comfortable, but the mattresses are occasionally hard and uneven. However, all the beds were scrupulously clean. The rooms contain scarcely any furniture but the beds, except one, in which are a bench and two chairs.

We found a girl in a strait-waistcoat, with the arms free, but ready to be restrained, if necessary. This patient sleeps in a dark closet, which just holds her bed, and which receives air only through a grated aperture in the door. In this place she spends twelve hours out of every twenty-four. Adjoining one of the sleeping-rooms is another closet containing a bed, and receiving air in a similar way; but at the date of our visit it was unoccupied.

There are no day-rooms; the patients take their meals where and how they choose. There are generally open fire-places, but in some of the rooms they are boarded up and not used. The windows are secured with bars.

The diet consists of porridge and butter-milk, morning and evening; and broth with bread for dinner. Coffee is said to be given to the feeble patients.

There are no lavatories. Water is taken to the rooms for washing. Tin basins are used for chamberpots—one or two to each room. We found three strait-waistcoats, a large number of straps, and a pair of iron handcuffs. The waistcoats are used whenever the patients shew an unruly tendency, and the ankles are bound with straps, when there is a disposition to kicking. The hands, too, are fastened with straps whenever, in the opinion of Mr. Davie, or an attendant, this appears necessary. There is a shower-bath, which is used occasionally to quiet refractory patients. Hitherto it has stood in a corner of the airing-ground, but it is about to be removed to an outhouse.

The airing-ground consists of a small walled garden, which serves for both sexes. It contains a privy, and there is another in a small yard close to the house for the women.

The rent paid by Mr. Davie is £20 per annum. Most of the patients have been removed from the chartered asylums.

Hitherto, with the alterations about the house, there has always been work for the men. Some of the females knit and sew.

We made some inquiry in reference to a patient who had been reported to us as having been badly treated. It appears that he had been received before there were proper means of security for violent patients, and he was consequently kept almost constantly handcuffed. He was very violent, and, in struggling, his wrists were cut by the irons. He was subsequently removed to the Edinburgh Royal Asylum.

The books kept are the Madhouse Register, and the Weekly Register. The entries of restraint are tolerably frequent.”

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