James Wells (Liveryman of London)
PRIVATE MADHOUSES!...James Wells to the Public...
“Nunquam dormio, sed semper MENTIS miseriae vivo”, Letters or Communications addressed to me, (Post Paid) relating to Crimes and Cruelties practised in those English Bastiles and Earthly HELLS! called Private Madhouses, shall have my very best attention, and most serious consideration, with a view to strict LEGAL investigation. “Me, neque mors, neque paupertas, neque opprobrium, Nec vincula terrent”, James Wells, Liveryman of London, No 3 Walbrook, Near the Mansion House
130 by 175mm (5 by 7 inches).
single sheet, printed one side
The interest of this document lies in the alleged lunacy of Wells himself. In 1829 there was an infamous case concerning Mr Freeman Anderson, an ‘eccentric’ who though having thousands of pounds decided to live in the ‘obscure and disreputable part of Lambeth-Marsh’ There he kept himself to himself and collected paintings. As the case unfolded in The Times and in judicial reports it became apparent that his family fearing that their possible inheritance would be spent, employed a Mr Man Burrows to arrest Anderson and confine him to a private lunacy asylum. However friends and neighbours of Anderson intervened and the police were called, resulting in the freeing of Anderson as just an ‘eccentric’ and the fining of Burrows of £500.00. Interestingly a letter to the Times pointing out the injustice of the attempted incarceration of Anderson was written by James Wells. This prompted a response in the same paper by Burrows, trying to defend his actions who pointed out that Wells had been declared a lunatic by the commission some years prior. All the correspondence was published in the London Medical Gazette, vol. 5, sept 1829 to march 1830 pp. 311 onwards, Imposing Restraint on Lunatics.
The National Archives hold the original papers on the case regarding Wells ‘lunacy’: James Wells, now residing at Hoxton House, Hoxton, Middlesex: commission and inquisition of lunacy, into his state of mind and his property, December 18th 1824 see: Wise, Sarah; Inconvenient people,Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors of Victorian England; and London Medical Gazette, vol. 5, sept 1829 to march 1830.pp 311 onwards, Imposing Restraint on Lunatics.
[ref: 12819] £380