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One Hundred Years of Lunacy Administration*

  • T. C. S. Keely


The history of lunacy administration can be traced back with reasonable certainty to 1339, the assumed date of the Statute de Prerogativa Regis, which limited the King's jurisdiction (already existing) over the estates of idiots or natural fools, whose profits he was to take, but for whom he was to find necessaries. For anyone ‘that beforetime hath had his wit and memory’ and should ‘happen to fail of his wit’ or, as would now be said, became a lunatic or of unsound mind, the King was to keep his estate safe and maintain him and his household competently out of the profits, but the King was to take nothing for his own use. By the Statute 32 Hen. VIII, c. 46 (1540), which established the Court of the King's Wards, the residue on the lunatic's death was to be paid over to his Executors or Administrators.



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* An abridged version of this article was published in The Times, Oct. 27, 1942. The Times Publishing Company have kindly consented to its publication in full in the Cambridge Law Journal,—Ed.

One Hundred Years of Lunacy Administration*

  • T. C. S. Keely


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