In my previous post ‘Real People‘ I wrote a little on the life of John Stevens, my great-great-great-uncle (my great-great-grandfather, Jabez’s older brother) who was born in Reading in 1837. Firstly, I must correct something I wrote in that entry; John Stevens was never in Broadmoor . Before entering the Moulsford Asylum, he was first an inmate at the Littlemore Asylum in Oxfordshire to which he was admitted on 24th March 1871. He was suffering from mania caused by epilepsy and had been ill for three months.
He was 34 years of age when admitted to the Moulsford Asylum on 17th May 1871. He was a tailor, married to Emma and had been subject to fits from the age of 17. This was not his first attack of insanity the cause of which was epilepsy. He told the doctor on admission that “he has been all around the world this morning; that he was seen John the Baptist; that he is John the Baptist; that he in a fighting attitude is addressing God.” He had been observed “standing for an hour in one attitude looking at the sky, squaring his fist to fight the Nurse and ill-treating his wife a few days after her confinement.” In the same year he was admitted, his wife Emma gave birth to a daughter, Kate.
As a patient, he still worked in his trade as a tailor as the asylum had its own tailoring shop. However he was still subject to frequent and severe epileptic fits.
On July 28th 1877 he was attacked by another patient, Harry Mulford, who knocked him down and kicked him breaking one of his ribs. Two years later in 1879 he stopped working as his condition began deteriorating.
In December 1886 he suffered with pneumonia and in March 1887 records state that John “is a wretched epileptic, frequently getting wounds in the head.” A year later in December 1887, he was so weak he was spending the entire day in bed, still suffering frequent fits. The next and last entry in the records of Moulsford Asylum regarding John is dated 10th February 1888. It states that he had:
“…been constantly in bed, at times noisy but thoroughly exhausted. He quietly passed away today at 2.30pm.” His cause of death was “exhaustion from epilepsy.”