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Asylum Records and photograph of Jacob Isenschmid(t)

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  • Asylum Records and photograph of Jacob Isenschmid(t)

    You will find below the transcription for two periods of Jacob Isenschmid in Colney Hatch asylum. These cover the periods of incarceration of Isenschmid starting in 1887 and 1908.

    I have to make it completely clear straight away that I did NOT do the work of obtaining these records. This was done by LYNN CATES who forwarded the records to me. All I have done is put them into a logical order and transcribe them.

    Also note (in the light of a recent thread about the spelling of his name) that there is even variation within the two sets of Colney Hatch records. In the 1887 documents his surname is spelt ISENSCHMID, while those of 1908 add a T to make it ISENSCHIMDT.

    The documents also included full face and profile photographs of Isenschmid taken in 1908 which I will post shortly.

    Again, my thanks to Lynn to whom any credit is due in doing the work to access these documents.

    Asylum records for Jacob Isenschmid

    Document 1:

    Page 47
    Registered No. of Admission: 10,191
    Date of Admission: 24th September 1887 (Seen 7 Oct 1887)
    Name: Jacob Isenschmid
    Age: 43
    Parish: Islington

    Single, Married, or Widowed: Married
    Condition and previous occupation: Pork butcher
    Religious Persuasion: Church of England
    If first Attack: Yes
    When and where under previous care and Treatment: Never before under treatment
    Duration of existing attack: About one month
    Supposed cause: Unknown (Drink)
    Whether subject to Epilepsy: No
    Whether suicidal: No
    Whether dangerous to Others: Yes
    Name and abode of nearest known Relative, and degree of Relationship: Mary Isenschmid (Wife), 59 Elthorne Road, Holloway, N.

    Facts specified in Medical Certificate upon which opinion of Insanity is founded:-
    1. Facts indicating Insanity observed by Medical Man:
    Says he can build a Church give him a shovel and cement, that he went on building for 6 days and 6 nights without rest, can lay over 2000 bricks a day and mix his own mortar. Says he can go several days without food. Says he shall be Member of Parliament soon. Talks with great excitement and violence.
    2. Other facts indicating Insanity communicated to him by others:
    Mary Isenschmid (Wife) 59 Elthorne Road - Threatened to kill his wife and children - writes threatening letters to his neighbours saying he will fire their homes and throw vitriol over them. Sometimes refuses food for days together - threatened to blow up the Queen with dynamite.
    William Tennant Stansfield (Neighbour) Elthorne Road - He threatens to kill Mr Stansfield.

    Name of certifying Medical Officer: John Alfred Gray, Islington Infirmary, Holloway.


    A well nourished and powerfully built man of middle age and intelligent appearance, who is a native of Switzerland, but has lived in England for many years. On admission he is excited in manner and rather noisy; he is rambling and incoherent in his statements, and has grandiose delusions as to his abilities and prospects.

    On admission patient is a very powerfully built man. Speaking with a foreign accent. He has many grandiose delusions and indeed his whole manner is excited. He appears to have led a very varied and wild life - he has fought with Garibaldi at Marengo and been in the French navy - at least this is his account. He speaks several languages. On examination his heart and lungs are healthy. His knee reflexes are normal, as are his other reflexes. There is no tremor of tongue but there is an occasional twitch of the facial muscles. G.

    Sept. 26: Appetite very good. Works well in the ward. Is very amusing with his sayings which are a mixture of extreme surrender and exaltation.
    Sept. 27: No change. G.
    Oct. 12: Removed from G two or three days ago. Was supposed to be conspiring with another patient to attack the attendants. Is now quiet and well behaved but gives out the impression of the possibility of his becoming troublesome. D
    Oct 17: Very quiet and well behaved in the ward. At times gives one the impression of being perhaps too quiet.
    It is noticed now that the right side of his face is altogether different to the left. Whether this be due to malnourishment or in part to a general paralysis is doubtful.
    There is decided loss of expression on the right side of his face and it appears altogether smaller than the left. His left ear is very markedly smaller than the right. His tongue is protruded slightly to the right. W11.
    Nov 28. Quiet and well conducted and working very hard in the kitchen. Exceedingly sanguine.
    Dec. 2: Discharge recovered.

    Document 2:
    Page 28
    Name: Jacob Isenschmidt
    Age: 62 (66?)
    Reg. No.: 15192
    Case Book No.: 2
    Folio: 28
    Union: Islington
    Occupation: Butcher
    Religion: Church of England
    Ward: 11
    Date of Admission: 7th September 1908
    Date of Discharge: -

    Certification Order:
    Patient is excited and talks absurdly, goes about dressed in shirt, blanket, and no stockings. Threatens to murder those about him.
    Robert Dowse, Attendant, Islington Workhouse, states that patient threatens others with violence, that he has threatened to break the windows, and that he uses filthy language.
    (Signed) Donald T Skeen

    Present Illness - Onset - date and mode of - assigned cause - succession of symptoms:
    Nov. 15 Daughter states that the family have seen very little of him since his discharge in 1903. She has seen him occasionally in the street, and he did not seem to be drinking. Never heard of any insanity in family.

    GENERAL EXAMINATION - No bruises. Fairly well nourished.
    Respiratory System - Symptoms.
    Physical Signs - Nil.
    Circulatory System - Symptoms: Nil.
    Heart. Soft blowing systolic murmur at apex.
    Alimentary System - Very few teeth left. Bowels and abdomen normal. Appetite poor.

    Folio 28
    Recurrent Mania II,8,C
    Nervous and Muscular System:
    1) Power and Co-ordination of movements in gait and station - Normal
    2) Writing and speaking - Normal
    3) Tremors, fits - Nil
    Pupils - Size, equality, and reactions - Equal, sluggish
    Control of sphincters - Normal
    Superficial reflexes - Normal
    Special senses and common sensibility - Normal

    Mental State.
    1) Behaviour and conduct as indicated in speech and action - Very excited and talkative.
    2) Intelligence, comprehension, attention, memory recent and remote, reason, judgment - All fair.
    3) The existence of hallucinations, delusions, illusions,impulses, and the nature and character of the same when present - Somewhat destructive, exceedingly garrulous and slightly incoherent.

    Date of Order: 5th Sept. 08
    No: 15192
    Civil State: Married
    Previous Address: St. John's Road Workhouse, Islington
    If first attack: No
    Age on first attack: Not known
    When and where under previous treatment: C.H.A. (Colney Hatch Asylum)
    Duration of existing attack: 5th Aug 1901 - 15 days (1 month written over)
    Supposed cause: Not known (H. Drink)
    Epileptic: Not known
    Suicidal: -
    Dangerous: Yes
    Heredity: Not known (Father)
    Address of relatives or friends: Wife Mary, 36 Despard Road, Islington
    Previous Nos. and dates: No. 13709
    4th Nov. 1902 Rec'd 11th July 1903
    10191: 24/09/1887 to 02/12/1887
    Grove Hall 24 Sept. 1888
    Banstead about 1890
    11417 15/10/1891 to 23/09/1892
    12238 03/10/1895 to 26/09/1896
    13089 05/06/1899 to 05/01/1900

    Document from Islington:
    Islington Workhouse, St. John's Road.
    No. 474
    Sept 7th 1908

    State of Jacob Isenschmidt, a patient removed from the above Workhouse on the 7th day of September 1908.
    As to cleanliness - Clean
    Bodily condition - Good

    Progress of Case.
    Sept. 14th: Very talkative but quieter - anxious to work - now in ordinary clothes having had three days of strong clothing and bedding.
    Sept. 21st: was transferred to (Ward) 12 on the 16th and was tried at work on the farm but was a failure as he interfered with everybody. Too excited for 12 so he was transferred to 11 on the 20th.
    Sept. 28th: Still very garrulous but not so interfering - good health.
    Oct. 5th: Still talkative - but not so troublesome and to be transferred to 12 ward tomorrow in order that he may once more start work. Good health.
    Nov. 5th: No change. Very garrulous. Tears clothes at times. Does some work.
    Dec. 7th: Slightly quieter and removed to ward 13. Works on the farm but is still easily put out by very small things. Health fair.
    Jan. 7th: At present very noisy and excitable, rushing round the Court with his trousers rolled up. Good health.
    April 7th: No change - irritable and noisy at times - potters about with work. Fair health.
    June 7th: Remains as above - noisy, garrulous - abusive, collects rubbish. Fair health.
    Sept. 7th: Garrulous - noisy - very silly - fair health.
    Dec. 9th: No change - extremely garrulous and interfering - picks up stones, says they are diamonds, very untidy - stuffs his pockets with rubbish - fair health (13).
    5 March: Has developed a temp. of 103.6 degrees, pain in right side with diminished breath sounds. Bloodstained sputum. Cough, rapid respiration, vomiting. Moved to C.5.
    9 March: Patient died at 10.05 p.m. yesterday.

    To the Medical Superintendent of the asylum of Colney Hatch.

    Death Certificate:

    No. 15192

    Date of Reception Order, the 5th day of September 1908

    I hereby give notice that Jacob Isenschmidt, a pauper patient, received into this asylum on the 7th day of September 1908, died therein on the 8th day of March 1910.
    Ernest Bailey
    Clerk of the London County Lunatic Asylum, Colney Hatch.

    Dated the 9th day of March 1910.

    To the Coroner of the Central Division of the County of Middlesex.

    NAME: Jacob Isenschmidt
    Sex and Age: Male 63 years
    Married, Single or Widowed: Married
    Profession or Occupation: Butcher
    Place of abode immediately before being placed under care and treatment: St. John's Road Workhouse, Islington, N.
    Apparent Cause of Death: 1) Recurrent mania 2) Lobar pneumonia and exhaustion. Natural causes.
    Whether or not ascertained by Post Mortem Examination: Yes
    Time and any unusual circumstances attending the death: 10.05 p.m. NIL
    Duration of disease of which Patient died: 1) Over 1 year and 5 months 2) 4 days
    Name and description of persons present at death: E J Wrenn Night Attendant
    Whether or not mechanical restraint applied within 7 days previous to death: No

    I hereby certify that the particulars contained in the above statement are true.
    W J Seward (?) M.B. Medical Officer

    Wife: Mrs. M. Isenschmidt, 10 Lysander Grove, Upper Holloway, N.
    Daughter: M. Isenschmidt, 36 Despard Road, Highgate, N.

    Index card attached:
    name: Jacob Isenschmidt
    Cause of death by P.M.: Acute lobar pneumonia
    (Signed) R Turnbull

  • #2
    Below are
    1) The index card which includes the full face and profile photos of Isenschmid. These are stamped "Admitted Sep. 17 1908"
    2) An enlarged version of the full face photo

    Again, my thanks to Lynn for sending these to me
    Attached Files


    • #3

      Hello Chris. All thanks to you for all the hard work here. As you know, the handwriting of the examining officer was difficult.

      The best.


      • #4
        Hi Lynn
        You are more than welcome:-)
        There are many points of interest here but one that struck me was that for his final period in Colney Hatch, Isenschmidt was transferred from the place where Roslyn D'Onston died - the workhouse at St John's Road, Islington


        • #5
          Hello Lynn, Chris,

          Well done indeed for hunting down these papers Lynn, superb work! And well done to Chris for transcribing them too, sounds like it was difficult!

          best wishes

          Chelsea FC. TRUE BLUE. 💙

          Justice for the 96 = achieved
          Accountability? ....


          • #6
            Fantastic work, Lynn and Chris.

            These records offer a gripping insight into Isenchmid personality and madness.


            Sugden's excellent chapter on Isenschmid is outdated !

            Many thanks,


            • #7
              Hello David,

              There is something about that photo that is very Albert Fish-like.

              Very off-putting.

              best wishes

              Chelsea FC. TRUE BLUE. 💙

              Justice for the 96 = achieved
              Accountability? ....


              • #8

                Hello DVV. Thanks, you are much too kind!

                The research was great fun and I felt so sorry for the poor chap. There was a hint that it all began with sun stroke in about 1882.

                The best.


                • #9
                  One thing I can add is a copy of the 1867 marriage certificate.
                  This reads as follows:

                  Marriage solemnized at St Barnabas's Church in the Parish of St Luke in the County of Middlesex

                  When Married: 26 December 1867

                  Name: Jacob Isenschmid
                  Age: Full
                  Condition: Bachelor
                  Rank or Profession: Butcher
                  Residence at time of marriage: 41 Bath Street
                  Father's Name: Bending Isenschmid
                  Rank or Profession of Father: Farmer

                  Name: Mary Ann Joyce
                  Age: Full
                  Condition: Spinster
                  Residence at time of marriage: 98 Old Street
                  Father's Name: Richard Joyce
                  Rank or Profession of Father: Farmer

                  Frederick Augustus Lewington
                  Ann Parish

                  This includes Isenschmid's signature and details about his father and, of course, details about his wife.
                  Attached Files


                  • #10

                    Hello Phil. Funny you should mention Albert Fish. I use him as an example in my Ethics classes.

                    Like Fish, Isenschmid was, by his wife's account, an avid Bible reader. If Isenschmid did commit an act of violence, it may have been in a delusional state. When in his right senses, he looks a kindly man.



                    • #11
                      d or t

                      Hello Chris. Good work! Is that a "d" ending his name?

                      The best.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Phil Carter View Post
                        Hello David,

                        There is something about that photo that is very Albert Fish-like.

                        Very off-putting.

                        best wishes

                        Aaaargh, Phil my dear,

                        wonder if they found needles in Isenchmid private parts...!

                        Anyway, quite a character...I like September suspects...Isenchmid could be your ripper number one, couldn't he ?
                        Wish we could find a pic of Piggott, though.



                        • #13
                          Hi Lynn
                          Yes - on the marriage cert. he spells his name Isenschmid.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lynn cates View Post
                            Hello DVV. Thanks, you are much too kind!

                            The research was great fun and I felt so sorry for the poor chap. There was a hint that it all began with sun stroke in about 1882.

                            The best.
                            Oh no, Lynn,

                            this is a great achievement, nothing to compare with most of the current discussions.

                            And the sun is the eye of Ahura Mazda, mind you.

                            Congrats again,


                            • #15

                              Hello DVV. I'm glad you liked it.

                              Thanks again.