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Peter Fitzsimons, a patient at West Riding Lunatic Asylum in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Photograph attributed to James Crichton-Browne, 1872.

Crichton-Browne, James, 1840-1938.
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About this work


A bearded man identified as Peter Fitzsimons, a joiner from Rock Street, Leeds. He was admitted to the West Riding Asylum in March 1872 as a married man aged fifty. He was examined before his committal by the Leeds Union physician Frederick Hall, who presented the following opinion: "Talks in a rambling discursive style. Has exaggerated ideas of his wealth and position. Imagines that he has been insulted and ill-treated. Says that for the last 2 years he has been unable to retain a situation owing to the confused state of his mind and that he has frequently contemplated committing suicide. Appearance and manner generally that of a weak-minded person." Peter was photographed in July, 1872. Initially he worked steadily in the carpenter’s shop at the Asylum but from the end of 1872 his health slowly deteriorated. His death in April 1874 was recorded as caused by General Paralysis of the Insane, tertiary syphillis, of three years duration. -- records in the West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield, Yorkshire, identified by David Scrimgeour, op. cit.


Wakefield : West Riding Asylum, Photographic Studio, [1872]

Physical description

1 photograph : photoprint, albumen ; sheet 9 x 5.5 cm


Mania of suspicion

Publications note

David Scrimgeour, 'Wellcome Library's "Anonymous patients" become proper people', David Scrimgeour blog 22 September 2016


Wellcome Library no. 35103i

Lettering note

Lettering hand-written in black ink on mount

Creator/production credits

The photograph may have been taken by James Crichton-Browne (1840-1938), the medical superintendent at West Riding Asylum 1866-1876. Crichton-Browne sent a similar set of photographs to Charles Darwin in or around 1869


  • English

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