Main Provisions of the 1890 Lunacy Act A Middlesex University resource provided by Andrew Roberts
4.Private patients not found lunatic by inquisition to be received only under order of judicial authority.
5.Petition for reception order.
6. Procedure upon petition for a reception order.
7. Dismissal of petition.
8. Right of lunatic to be examined by judicial authority. The Judicial Authority defined.
9. Judicial authority defined.
10. Appointment of justices to make reception orders.

Urgency Orders

11. Urgency orders.

Reception after Inquisition

12. Lunatics so found by inquisition.

Summary Reception Orders

13. Lunatics not under proper care and control, or cruelly treated or neglected.
14. Notice to be given of pauper lunatic who ought to be sent to an asylum.
15. Lunatic wandering at large to be brought before a justice.
16. Lunatic brought before a justice may be sent to an institution for lunatics.
17. Power to examine alleged lunatic at his own abode or elsewhere.
18. When lunatic may be treated as a pauper.
19. Suspension of removal under reception order.
20. Removal of lunatic to workhouse in urgent cases.
21. Temporary removal of lunatic to workhouse under order of justice.
22. Power to allow a relation or friend to take charge of a lunatic.

Reception Order by two Commissioners

23. Commissioners may send pauper lunatic to an institution for lunatics.

Lunatics in Workhouses

24. Lunatics in workhouses.
25. Power to send discharged pauper not recovered to a workhouse.
26. Chronic lunatics may be received in workhouses in certain cases.

Institutions in which Lunatics may he received

27. Institutions to which lunatics may be removed.

Requirements of Reception Orders and Medical Certificates

28. Medical certificates.
29. Time and manner of medical examination of lunatic.
30. Persons disqualified for signing certificates.
31. Usual medical attendant to sign medical certificate in case of private patient, if possible.
32. Patients not to be received under certificates by interested persons.
33. Commissioners and visitors not to sign certificates.
34. Amendment of orders and certificates.
35. Authority for reception.
36. Fresh order and certificates not to be required in certain cases.
37. Order and certificate to remain in force in certain cases.

Duration of Reception Orders

38. Duration of reception orders.



Reports after Reception

39. Reports upon and visits to private patients.

Mechanical Restraint

40. Mechanical means of restraint


41. Letters of patients


42. Notices as to letters and interviews.

Medical Attendance

43. Persons disqualified to be medical attendants of lunatic.
44. Medical attendance on single patients.
45. Special report as to single patient.
Power to take more than one Lunatic as a single Patient.
46. Power to take more than one person on same conditions as a single patient.

Visits of Friends

47. Admission to patients of friends, relations, and others.

Appointment of Substitute for Person who applied for Reception Order

48. Power to appoint substitute for the person who applied for reception order.

Examination of Lunatic

49. Provision for any person to apply to have patient examined.

Inquiries as to Property

50. Inquiries as to property

Application for a Search

51. Power for a Commissioner or visitor to direct a search whether a particular person has been confined.


52. Diet of patients.

Employment of Males in care of Females

53. Males not to be employed in personal custody of females

Book to be kept in Workhouse

54. Book to be kept in workhouse.

Absence on Trial or for Health

55. Absence on trial or for health.
56. Change of residence of single patients.

Boarding-out Lunatics

57. Maintenance for pauper lunatic taken charge of by relatives

Removal of Lunatics

58. Removal of private patient by person authorised to discharge the patient.
59. Removal of lunatics by Commissioners
60. Removal of lunatic from workhouse by Commissioners
61. Removal of lunatic in a hospital or licensed house by guardians.
62. Removal from workhouse by guardians.
63. Removal of lunatic boarded out into asylum.
64. Removal of pauper into county asylum.
65. Removal of pauper from asylum.
66. Directions as to execution of order for removal.
67. Restriction upon removal of paupers by two visitors.
68. Removal of lunatic from workhouse by a justice.
69. Restriction as to institution to which pauper may be removed.
70. Removal orders to be in duplicate.
71. Removal of alien to his native country.

Discharge of Lunatics

72. Discharge of private patient.
73. Discharge of pauper in hospital or house.
74. Restriction on discharge.
75. Discharge by Commissioners of patients in hospital or licensed house, and of single patients.
76. Notice of order of discharge.
77. Visitors may discharge patients in asylums.
78. Discharge by visitors of lunatics in licensed houses.
79. Discharge of pauper on application of relative or friend.
80. Visiting committee may send notice of intention to discharge pauper lunatic to relieving officer or clerk of local authority.
81. Discharge from workhouse by guardians.
82. Copies of reception order and other documents to be furnished.

Recovery of Patient

83. Notice to be given on recovery of a patient.

Inquiry into Cause of Death

84. Coroner to inquire into death, if necessary.

Escape and Recapture

85. Escape and recapture
86. Escape from England into Scotland or Ireland
87. Escape from Scotland into England or Ireland
88. Escape from Ireland into England or Scotland
89. Limit of time of retaking lunatic.



Reception Orders on Petition

margin: Private patients not found lunatic by inquisition to be received only under order of judicial authority

4.-(1) Subject to the exceptions in this Act mentioned, a person, not being a pauper or a lunatic so found by inquisition, shall not be received and detained as a lunatic in an institution for lunatics, or as a single patient, unless under a reception order made by the judicial authority herein-after mentioned. A relative of the person applying for an order under this section or of the lunatic, or of the husband or wife of the lunatic, shall not be capable of making such order.

(2) The order shall be obtained upon a private application by petition accompanied by a statement of particulars and by two medical certificates on separate sheets of paper.

5.-(1) The petition shall be presented, if possible, by the husband or wife or by a relative of the alleged lunatic. If not so presented it shall contain a statement of the reasons why the petition is not so presented and of the connexion of the petitioner with the alleged lunatic, and the circumstances under which he presents the petition.

(2) No person shall present a petition unless he is at least twenty-one years of age and has within fourteen days before the presentation of the petition personally seen the alleged lunatic.

(3) The petitioner shall in the petition undertake that he will personally, or by someone specially appointed by him, visit the patient once at least in every six months; and the undertaking shall be recited in the order.

(4) The petition shall be signed by the petitioner and the statement of particulars by the person making the statement.

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Main Provisions of the 1890 Lunacy Act
53 Vict. ch. 5



1. Short title.
2. Extent of Act.
3. Commencement.



Reception Orders on Petition

mental health history timelineClick for:

asylums defined

county asylums
subjects of inquiry
time of visits

county houses
subjects of inquiry
time of visits

licensed houses
subjects of inquiry
time of visits

subjects of inquiry
time of visits

Timeline 1842.

workhouse asylums