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The records from Claybury Asylum

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  • The records from Claybury Asylum

    Today I received a reply from Redbridge Record Office of the information they have regarding Fleming/Evans at Claybury
    Sadly there is very little - in fact the information is confined to his admission record with, apparently, no follow up notes as was the case with the Stone Asylum
    Here is the reply I received today:

    Sent: Monday, February 02, 2009 11:51 AM
    Subject: RE: Claybury Asylum

    Dear Mr Scott,
    I am glad to tell you that the Health Authority has agreed to release to you the details of Mr James Evans, alias Joseph Fleming.
    The information is as follows:
    He was admitted to Claybury as James Evans, on 14th February 1895, transferring from Stone. He was then 40 years old, unmarried, a pauper (the responsibility of Bethnal Green), and had been a dock labourer. His religion is given as C of E. His illness was described as mania, to which he had a hereditary disposition, and was precipitated by the use of alcohol. This was his first attack, which had lasted 3 years. He died on 28th August 1920.

    You will deduce from the above that the understanding then of mental illness and its causes was very different from our own.

  • #2
    He may simply have been an alcoholic with a "wet brain," then?


    • #3
      Hi Robert
      I assume this assessment is a combination of the notes from Stone that his mania was precipitated by drink and the "hereditary disposition" which echoes the mother's note that there was a history of insanity in the family


      • #4
        And for some unfathomable reason, he remains "James Evans", although it must have been patently clear by now that this was not his real name...?

        The best,


        • #5
          Wouldīnt a death certificate have been issued, by the way? And were not such things kept record of?

          Just a thought. And as always, thanks for digging and sharing, Chris!

          The best,


          • #6
            Hi Fisherman
            The details of the death certificate read as follows:

            "28 August 1920 at Claybury Mental Hospital, Urban District.
            Joseph Fleming, otherwise James Evans.
            Male, 65 years.
            Of City of London Union Infirmary.
            Previous address unknown. Chargeable to Bethnal Green, a dock labourer.
            Cause of death, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, 6 months, 13 days
            P.M. Certified by F. Paine, acting Medical Superintendent, Claybury Mental Hospital, Ilford, 1 September 1920."


            • #7
              Of course, Chris; seen it before! I was just grasping for straws, apparently - the document I had in mind was a lot more specific about height, weight, and such ...

              Anyway, here in the death certificate he is referred to primarily as Joseph Fleming.
              One canīt help wondering why this was not the case as he was transferred from Stone asylum to Claybury? I have no trouble accepting that he himself may have given his name as James Evans, but Henrietta Fleming must have effectively blown that cover. So why is this not evident in the Claybury papers? Why was he admitted as James Evans?

              I mean, if people suffer from a condition where they believe they are penguins, itīs all good and well if the staff at the asylum play along if they wish to - but thatīs a far cry from actually claiming in the records that they are dealing with penguins!

              All the best,


              • #8
                Is it likely that Claybury had taken a photo of Fleming?
                We have 2 splendid pics of Isenchmid from Colney Hatch. It would be good to get one of Joe.

                Amitiés all


                • #9
                  The main entrance.
                  It is now called Repton Park after the 18th century landscape architect of the surrounding parkland.

                  I am puzzled by the three Essex Seaxes appearing on the gate post.
                  This ancient badge was made the official emblem for Essex County Council in 1932, but Claybury, although then counted as being in Essex, was run by the County of London. It looks like an old crest.
                  Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    The main residential area has controlled entrance. The grounds are a public park.
                    Click image for larger version

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                    • #11
                      Here's an estate map.
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                      • #12
                        Fleming's quarters can be seen in the background.
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                        • #13
                          Although completed in 1893, this building was dated 1891.
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                          • #14
                            An overgrown staircase leading up to the buildings.
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                            • #15
                              The chapel - now a swimming pool.
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