Board of control for lunacy and mental deficiency

The Board of Control for Lunacy and Mental Deficiency was a United Kingdom body overseeing the treatment of the mentally ill. It was created by the Mental Deficiency Act 1913 to replace the Commissioners in Lunacy, under the Home Office but independent in that it reported to the Lord Chancellor (who would investigate breaches of care and integrity). It was transferred to the Ministry of Health by the Minstry of Health Act 1919 and reorganised in 1930.

The Board consisted of: a Chairman, two Senior Medical Commissioners, one Senior Legal Commissioner, six Commissioners (lawyers and doctors), six Inspectors and administrative staff. By law, one of these had to be a woman. The Commissioners of the board went round the country seeing that those detained under the various mental and mental deficiency Acts were legally in custody and that care was proper and moneys and other properties owned by patients were not being misused or stolen.

The board was based in Northumberland Avenue, London, until 1939 when it was moved to Hobart House, Grosvenor Place.

Its responsibility was limited to England and Wales.


Announcements of members were carried in the major national newspapers, including The Times.

  • On inception of the board in 1913, the chairman was Sir William Byrne with Arthur Rotherham and Mary Dendy joining the ex officio members of the previous Lunacy Commissioners; C.H. Bond, E.M. Cooke, S. Coupland, B.T. Hodgson, S.J.F. MacLeod, F. Needham L.L. Shadwell, A.H. Trevor[1]
  • In 1916, due to Sir William Byrne moving on, E.M. Cooke became acting chairman, and Robert Welsh Braithwaite was appointed to the board.[2]
  • In 1921, Ruth Darwin was appointed to the board[3]
  • In 1926 due to Robert Welsh Braithwaite's retirement, Robert Cunyngham Brown was appointed a commissioner.[4]
  • In 1928, due to the retirement of the chairman, Sir Frederick Willis, Laurence George Brock was appointed chairman.[5]
  • In 1929, Dr Bedford Pierce was appointed a commissioner.

From the start of 1931, the board was reconstituted, with a chairman and four other members. L.G. Brock continued as chairman, with S.J. Fraser MacLeod, C. Hubert Bond, Arthur Rotherham, Ellen Pinsent.


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