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THE first legislative enactment which was passed to provide for the custody of lunatics was the Vagrant Act 17 G. 2, c.5. This statute contained a provision in sect. 20, which dealing with persons furiously mad, or so far disordered in their senses that they may be dangerous to be permitted to go abroad, authorized two justices by their warrant to cause such persons to be apprehended and kept locked up in some secure place, and, if they should find it necessary, to be there chained. The place of the settlement was to be ascertained, to which the lunatic was to be removed, and his property was to be taken to pay the charges of his maintenance.
This was the only provision applicable to pauper lunatics until the 48 G. 3, c. 96, which was passed in 1808. A committee of the House of Commons sat during the session of 1807 upon the instigation of Mr. Wynn, to investigate the state and condition of lunatics; and upon their report that gentleman introduced the bill in the following year, which was passed for the purpose of enabling asylums to be provided for the maintenance of lunatics being paupers or criminals.
The substance of that enactment was as follows: The justices of any county who thought proper to erect