Madness on trial

A transatlantic history of English civil law and lunacy

By James Moran

Madness on trial


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3303-8
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: May 2019
  • BIC Category: Sociology, Psychiatry, New Jersey, Mental health law, Legal history, England, HISTORY / Social History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / General, Mental Health Law, Medicine / History of medicine, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Legal History
  • Series: Social Histories of Medicine


This book examines the powerful influence of civil law on understandings and responses to madness in England and in New Jersey. The influence of civil law on the history of madness has not hitherto been of major academic investigation. This body of law, established and developed over a five hundred year period, greatly influenced how those from England's propertied classes understood and responded to madness. Moreover, the civil law governing the response to madness in England was successfully exported into several of its colonies, including New Jersey. Drawing on a well-preserved and rare collection of trials in lunacy in New Jersey, this book reveals the important ties of civil law, local custom and perceptions of madness in transatlantic perspectives. This book will be highly relevant to scholars interested in law, medicine, psychiatry and madness studies, as well as contemporary issues in mental capacity and guardianship.


List of tables
1 Introduction: civil law and madness in transatlantic context
2 Suing for a lunatic: lunacy investigation law, 1320-1890
3 Indefinite mental states: negotiating the legal definition of madness
4 Trials of madness: family struggles over property in England
5 Care and protection: managing madness in England
6 Atlantic crossing: lunacy law as colonial inheritance
7 Family, friends and neighbours: localizing madness in New Jersey
8 Asylum in the community: managing madness in New Jersey
9 Orders in lunacy: lunacy investigation law and the asylum reconsidered
10 Conclusion

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