Category Archives: Hospitals, Asylums and Workhouses

Spotlight on Stafford: Mary Ann Turner, Matron of Stafford Asylum (1832-53)

Staffordshire's Asylums

The senior female member of staff at the new Stafford
asylum was the Matron. This role did not need any medical or nursing training,
but the occupant was expected to set a good example to her staff and also to be
a good bookkeeper and submit monthly accounts. The welfare of all the female
staff, domestics as well as attendants, was her other main responsibility. In
the early 1830s the Matron had about six female attendants working under her,
which although a paltry number to deal with around ninety female patients, was
actually an improvement on the three female attendants employed when the asylum
opened.

The first Matron had been the Medical Superintendent John
Garrett’s mother, and by the early 1830s a Mrs Lockley had taken over. Ill
health forced her to retire, and a replacement was needed urgently. No
application letters survive from 1832, and so it seems that…

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Spotlight on Stafford – John Garrett, the first Superintendent of Stafford Asylum

Staffordshire's Asylums

Finding the right staff to supervise the new asylum was a
major task in 1818. After some debate, 28 year old John Garrett was appointed Superintendent
(full title House Surgeon, Apothecary & Superintendent). He had worked at
Bethlem Hospital, and so was not new to asylums. Another applicant was James
Bakewell, whose brother Thomas was a vociferous opponent of the new county
asylum, and who ran Spring Vale asylum at Tittensor. Edward Knight was
appointed physician to work alongside Garrett.

John Garrett was a qualified surgeon and remained in post
until 1841. He managed the asylum and reported annually to a committee of three
trustees and twelve visiting justices. In the asylum’s early days, John Garrett
fought back against Thomas Bakewell’s anti-Stafford campaign, which went on
into the 1820s. Garrett dismissed Bakewell’s claims that the asylum would be
viewed by the mentally ill and others alike as ‘an object of…

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