Labelled dangerous at 7

Mendip Hospital Cemetery – In Memory of Alice Maud Perry (1887-1901)

Alice Maud Perry was born in Dowlish Wake, near Chard, Somerset 1887, daughter of a family of farm labourers. Alice was admitted to the Somerset County Lunatic Asylum at Wells, May 4th 1895, labelled “DANGEROUS”, aged just 7 years.

Medical Certificate (issued at Chard Workhouse prior to admission): Continually moving about, screaming, breaking windows, requires constant watching, biting other children, tearing her clothes to rags. Is in danger of killing herself or other children. Has been in this state from birth.

On admission: Small for her age but well nourished, fair hair, florid complexion, a few scratches on face, complete opacity of the right lens, tongue clean, heart and lung sound normal.

Mentally: Backward in intelligence and self-willed, fretting continually if not humoured. Keeps calling for her mother. Is restless and fidgety with a propensity to mischief and destructiveness. Has to be fed with a spoon. Cleanly habits so far.

May 7th. Takes no food of her own accord. Gives no great trouble.

May 9th. Is fairly easily managed, takes her food better.

May 11th. Childish and playful. Inclined to be mischievous.

May 25th. Full of mischief, smashes cups etc. Very fretful and peevish.

July 25th. Is obstinate and self-willed. At times exceedingly mischievous. Much improved physically.

August 14th. Picks up bad language and bad habits readily.

September 10th. About the same. Gains flesh.

November 22nd. Is more artful and readily imitates what she sees in others. Swears a good deal and is very passionate. At time very mischievous. Has grown and otherwise is improved physically.

1896

March 31st. Extremely self willed. When thwarted bites, kicks and spits at those near her. Picks up bad language very readily. Is strong and robust.

June 22nd. Getting more troublesome every day. Is learning bad habits readily. In good health.

October 30th. No change.

1897

January 26th. Is very fierce and bad tempered. Attacks (others) on the slighted provocation. Frequently scratches her face. Health good.

April 26th. Remains the same mentally and bodily.

On July 28th, 1897, Alice was transferred to the newly opened Cotford Asylum, near Taunton, Somerset (later known as Tone Vale Hospital). Cotford had been built as an extension to the asylum at Wells, which was not large enough to accommodate the increasing number of mentally ill patients in the county.

Alice remained at Cotford until her early death, which occurred towards the end of 1901. She had just turned 13. Alice’s family may have taken her home for burial – if not, she would have been buried in the now lost cemetery at Cotford Asylum. Lovely Alice is remembered and honoured with all the other other lost ones, here at Mendip Hospital Cemetery.

Image © South West Heritage Trust

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