History of Mental Health Law in England and Wales, 1324-2007

The following timeline includes all major legislation and parliamentary material concerned with mental health issues in England and Wales from the Praerogativa Regis 1324 to the Mental Health Act 2007.

While including a few relevant cases, it focuses almost exclusively on Acts of the Parliament. Click on the image for an interactive version.

Timeline England and Wales

The following Table summarizes all statutes and cases included in the previous Timeline. The citation style refers to the Regnal Year of the English Crown as customary in historical research.

Click on the Statute’s name to Download the PDF version.

Reference for the list of Acts of the Parliament of England and the UK.

Reference for Statutes and Case Law in England and the UK.

Year Name Regnal Reference
1324 Praerogativa Regis, Lands of Idiots Act 17 Edward II, c. 9
1530 Vagabonds Act 22 Hen. VIII, c. 12
1535 Vagabonds Act 27 Hen. VIII, c. 25
1551 Poor Act 5 & 6 Edw. VI, c. II
1555 Poor Act 2 & 3 Ph. & M., c. V
1562 Poor Act 5 Eliz. I, c. III
1572 Hospitals for the Poor Act 14 Eliz. I, c. 14
1572 Vagabonds etc. Act 14 Eliz. I, c. V
1575 Poor Act 18 Eliz. I, c. III
1597 Hospitals for the Poor Act 39 Eliz. I, c. 5
1597 Poor Act 39 Eliz. I, c. III
1601 Poor Relief Act 43 Eliz., c. 2
1623 Hospitals Act 21 Ja. I, c. I
1662 Poor Relief Act 14 Cha. II, c. XII
1670 Poor Act 22 & 23 Cha. II, c. XVIII
1691 Poor Relief Act 3 Will. & Mar., c. XI
1696 Relief of the Poor Act 8 & 9 Will. III, c. XXX
1697 Poor Act 9 Will. III, c. XI
1712 Poor Act 12 Ann., c. XVIII
1713 Vagrants Act 12 Ann., c. 23
1722 Poor Relief Act 9 Geo. I, c. VII
1743 Justices Commitment Act 17 Geo. II, c. 5
1743 Poor Relief Act 17 Geo. II, c. XXXVIII
1760 Earl Ferrers Case
1762 Poor Act 2 Geo. III, c. XXII
1763 Select Committee of the House of Commons
1766 Poor Act 7 Geo. III, c. XXXIX
1769 Poor Relief Act 9 Geo. III, c. XXXVII
1774 Madhouses Act 14 Geo. III, c. 49
1776 Poor Act 16 Geo. III, c. XL
1782 Relief of the Poor Act 22 Geo. III, c. LXXXIII
1789 George III’s Madness
1790 Workhouses Act 30 Geo. III, c. XLIX
1795 Poor Removal Act 35 Geo. III, c. CI
1795 Relief of the Poor Act 36 Geo. III, c. XXIII
1800 Hadfield Case
1800 Criminal Lunatics Act 39 & 40 Geo. III, c. 94
1800 Poor Act 41 Geo. III, c. IX
1803 Poor Act 43 Geo. III, c. CXLIV
1807 Select Committee of the House of Commons on the State of Criminal and Pauper Lunatics in England and Wales
1808 Lunatic Paupers or Criminal Act 48 Geo. III, c. 96
1811 Lunatic Paupers etc. 51 Geo III, c. 79
1815 House of Commons Select Committee on Madhouses
1815 Paupers etc., Lunatics 55 Geo III, c. 46
1816 Workhouse Act 56 Geo. III, c. CXXIX
1819 Pauper Lunatics (England) Act 59 Geo. III, c. 127
1819 Poor Relief Act 59 Geo. III, c. XII
1824 Vagrancy Act 5 Geo IV, c. 83
1827 House of Commons Select Committee on Pauper Lunatics in Middlesex
1828 County Lunatic Asylums (England) Act 9 Geo. IV, c. 40
1828 Madhouses Act 9 Geo. IV, c. 41
1832 Insane Persons (England) Act 2 & 3 Will. IV, c. 107
1832 Anatomy Act 2 & 3 Will. IV, c. 75
1833 Commissioners of Lunacy Act 3 & 4 Will. IV, c. XXXVI
1834 Poor Law Amendment Act 4 & 5 Will. IV, c. 76
1834 Commission for Inquiring into the Administration and Practical Consequences of the Poor Laws
1836 Coroner’s Act 6 & 7 Will. IV, c. 89
1840 Oxford Case
1840 Insane Prisoners Act 3 & 4 Vict., c. 54
1841 Founding of the Association of Medical Officers of Asylums for the Insane
1842 Lunacy Act 5 & 6 Vict., c. 84
1842 Lunatic Asylums Act 5 & 6 Vict., c. 87
1843 McNaughtan Case
1844 Report of the Metropolitan Commissioners in Lunacy to the Lord Chancellor
1844 Poor Law Amendment Act 7 & 8 Vict., c. 101
1845 Lunatics Acts 8 & 9 Vic., c. 100
1845 Lunatic Asylums Act 8 & 9 Vic., c. 126
1848 Publication of the Journal of Psychological Medicine and Mental Science
1853 Lunacy Regulation Act 16 & 17 Vict., c. 70
1853 Care and Treatment of Lunatics Act 16 & 17 Vict., c. 96
1853 Lunatic Asylums Act 16 & 17 Vict., c. 97
1853 Publication of the Asylum Journal
1855 Lunacy Act 18 & 19 Vic., c. 13
1855 Lunacy Regulation Act 18 & 19 Vic., c. 110
1858 Medical Act 21 & 22 Vic., c. 60
1860 Criminal Lunatics Act 23 & 24 Vict., c. 75
1860 Select Committee on the Care and Treatment of Lunatics
1862 Lunacy Acts Amendment Act 25 & 26 Vict., c. 111
1862 Lunacy Regulation Act 25 & 26 Vict., c. 86
1864 Insane Prisoners Amendment Act 27 & 28 Vict., c. 29
1865 Lunacy Act Amendment Act 28 & 29 Vic., c. 80
1867 Metropolitan Poor Act 30 & 31 Vict., c. VI
1867 Poor Law Amendment Act 30 & 31 Vict., c. 106
1877 Select Committee on the Operation of the Lunacy Law, so far as it Reads Security afforded by it Against Violations of Personal Liberty
1877 Inspection of the Metropolitan Asylums Commissioned by The Lancet
1883 Trial of Lunatics Act 46 & 47 Vict., c. 38
1884 Criminal Lunatics Act 47 & 48 Vict., c. 64
1885 Lunacy Acts Amendment Act 48 & 49 Vic., c. 52
1886 Idiots Act 49 & 50 Vict., c. 25
1886 Lunacy Vacating Seats 49 & 50 Vict., c. 16
1889 Lunacy Acts Amendment Act 52 & 53 Vict., c. 41
1890 Lunacy Act 53 Vict., c. 5
1891 Lunacy Act 54 & 55 Vic., c. 65
1897 Special Report of the Commissioners in Lunacy on the Alleged Increase of Insanity
1904 Royal Commission on the Care of the Feeble-Minded (Radnor Commission)
1909 Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief Distress
1911 Lunacy Act 1 & 2 Geo V, c. 40
1913 Mental Deficiency Act 3 & 4, Geo V, c. 28
1914 Elementary Education (Defective and Epileptic Children) Act 4 & 5 Geo. V, c. 45
1919 Mental Deficiency and Lunacy Amendments 9 & 10 Geo V, c. 85
1919 Ministry of Health Act 9 & 10 Geo. V, c. 21
1922 Lunacy Act 12 & 13 Geo V, c. 60
1922 Report of the Committee on the Administration of Public Mental Hospitals
1922 Report of the Proceedings of the Conference convened by Sir Frederick Willis on Lunacy Reform
1923 Report of the Committee on Insanity and Crime
1925 Mental Deficiency Amendment 15 & 16 Geo V. 53
1926 Report of Royal Commission on Lunacy and Mental Disorder (Macmillan Commission)
1926 Report of the National Society for Lunacy Reform
1927 Mental Deficiency 17 & 18 Geo. V, c. 33
1930 Mental Treatment Act 20 & 21 Geo V, c. 23
1936 Public Health Act 26 Geo. V & 1 Edw. 8, c. 49
1941 Report of the Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services
1946 Founding of the National Association of Mental Health
1946 National Health Service Act 9 & 10 Geo. VI, c. 81
1946 National Insurance Act 9 & 10 Geo. VI, c. 67
1948 National Assistance Act 11 & 12 Geo. VI, c. 29
1957 Report of Royal Commission on the Law relating to Mental Illness and Mental Deficiency (Percy Commission)
1959 Mental Health Act Mental Health Act, 1959

or

7 & 8 Eliz. II, c. 72

1975 Report of the Committee on Mentally Abnormal Offenders
1982 Mental Health Amendment Act Mental Health Amendment Act, 1982

or

29 & 30 Eliz. II, c. 51

1983 Mental Health Act Mental Health Act, 1983

or

30 & 31 Eliz. II, c. 20

2005 Mental Capacity Act Mental Capacity Act, 2005

or

52 & 53 Eliz. II, c. 9

2007 Mental Health Act Mental Health Act, 2007

or

55 & 56 Eliz II, c. 12

 

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