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By Leonard Smith (auth.)

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Additional resources for Insanity, Race and Colonialism: Managing Mental Disorder in the Post-Emancipation British Caribbean, 1838–1914

Sample text

53 In Trinidad use of the jail persisted longer than in many places. The governor, Lord Harris, complained in 1848 that the channelling of government expenditure toward immigration had serious consequences for public services. He despaired about the consequences for the insane: The lunatics and idiots wander at large about the streets, to the annoyance and disgust of all, except when they at times become violent then, if by chance room may be found either in the gaol or the hospital, or the police station, they are confined.

The inmates were allowed access to the prison yard for exercise. They were under the care of the jailer, assisted by a nurse ‘to cook and attend them’, their diet regulated by a visiting surgeon. Prisoner returns for the ‘Common Gaol’, completed in March 1838, showed 11 lunatics, three male and eight female, nine being ‘black’ and two ‘coloured’. 44 In Grenada the problem was on a smaller scale but the approaches were similar. By 1847 the financially strapped authorities were considering their options.

Ancillary trades, and those employed in them, were badly affected. 107 By the mid-1850s the sugar planters’ situation was again improving in several colonies, particularly where they had access to adequate supplies of cheap, capable labour. This was certainly the case in Barbados, with its perennial problem of high population density in relation to cultivable land. 108 The industry continued in moderate prosperity until the mid-1880s when competition from European beet sugar precipitated a widespread collapse in demand, bringing inevitable repercussions in reduced numbers of estates and forced amalgamations.

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