Northern Centre for the History of Medicine and Medical Humanities

Jonathan Andrews

Reader in the History of Psychiatry
School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University




Jonathan Andrews is a Lecturer in History, specialising in the History of Medicine, at the University of Newcastle. His research interests reside primarily in the history of mental illness, learning disabilities and the history of psychiatry, in Britain, from roughly 1600-1914. He has published 3 monographs in the field, most recently (with Andy Scull) Undertaker of the Mind University of California Press, 2001) and Customers and Patrons of the Mad Trade (University of California Press, 2003), and previous to this (with Roy Porter et al.) the History of Bethlem (Routledge, 1997). He has published three edited collections, most recently Sex


I came to Newcastle University on 1 Sept. 2005, on a 0.5 fractional appointment, as a Lecturer in the History of Medicine, having previously been a Senior Lecturer in History/the History of Medicine at Oxford Brookes University, from 1996-2005. Prior to that, during 1991-5, I was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Glasgow Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine.

I have been researching and publishing on the history of madness and psychiatry in both early modern and modern Britain since 1988. However, I may be best known for the work I have done more specifically on Bethlem (or ‘Bedlam’) Hospital. This has led some in the past to award me the soubriquet ‘Bedlam Andrews’, but more respectably culminated in a whole series of articles, chapters and a rather monumental revisionist research monograph with Routledge. Over 200,000 words in length, this monograph - straightforwardly entitled The History of Bethlem - was universally acknowledged as a definitive history of that notorious institution, from 1247-1997. Although jointly authored with Roy Porter and others, its 60,000 word early modern section was essentially a revised and truncated version of my 1991 doctoral thesis (supervised by Porter). This book and other associated publications argued convincingly for a reassessment of the hospital’s historical record, and a much more nuanced and less sensationalised account. It was thus less reliant on popular literary stereotypes, and more thoroughly contextualised in wide range of available documentary evidence. My doctoral and post-doctoral research on Bethlem, continues to bear fruit in published form, as should be clear from my forthcoming article in the journal History of Psychiatry on ‘the (und)dress of the mad poor’

Since the late 1980s, my research has ranged widely over the territory of madness and mental disability in early modern Britain. It has included substantial published contributions on the identification and separate provision for incurable or chronic lunatics; on the socio-cultural and legal history of idiocy and mental disability; and on parochial relief and provision, and familial and locally based solutions, for the problems posed by the mentally disordered. It has also included a number of published analyses of individual cases and mad-doctors.

Between 1991 and 1995, I successfully completed a 5-year post-doctorate on Glasgow Royal Asylum and Scottish psychiatry, which saw my research move, both chronologically and geographically, to focus on Scottish psychiatry in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The latter involved me in important and long sustained collaborations with a number of clinical psychiatrists. It bore substantial fruit in a jointly edited history of Glasgow asylum, a booklet on the work of the Scottish Lunacy Commissioners and the central and local oversight of nineteenth-century lunacy in Scotland, and several articles in peer reviewed journals and chapters in edited collections. The latter embraced a wide range of themes and approaches, including prosopographical studies of the career profiles and ideological standpoints of the Glasgow ‘school of psychiatry’; a social analysis of the class-composition of patient admissions to the asylum, and a survey of the changing nature, meanings and contemporary usage of case notes and case histories by asylum and psychiatric specialists. My research on Scottish psychiatry has continued to see published outputs during my Lectureship at Brookes, including an analysis of R.D. Laing’s career and therapeutic experimentation in Glasgow.

My research on early modern madness has led me to closely examine the 18th-century private mad-trade, and the careers and practices of mad-doctors themselves. This culminated in a highly fruitful collaboration with Prof. Andrew Scull, and the publication of two research monographs, Undertaker of the Mind (2001) and Customers and Patrons of the Mad Trade (2003). While one was a broad study of the medical practice and patients of John Monro within the wider framework of English lunacy, the other was a commentary on and edition of Monro’s 1766 casebook. Both books have won wide acclaim in numerous reviews in international historical journals, as well as in the broadsheet press.

I have a long list of published outputs in peer-refereed journals, including Soc. Hist. Medicine, History of Psychiatry, History of Science, Eighteenth-Century Life and J. of the Royal Society, as well as numerous chapters in a variety of edited collections. I have also shown a strong commitment to dissemination and outreach in pursuing and publishing my research, which for example involved me working as a consultant on a major public exhibition of the history of Scottish insanity at the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. I have also made a number of media and television appearances, published 12 entries for the New DNB, and contributed to some compendiums and textbooks of medical history, including a chapter in the (2004) Open University coursebook Medicine Transformed; Health, Disease and Society in Europe, 1800-1939.


Oct. 1981-June 1984
BA (Hons) History, IIi

Oct. 1985-March 1991 PhD History: thesis entitled
`Bedlam Revisited: A History of Bethlem Hospital, c1634-c1770'
PhD Supervisor: Dr. Roy Porter (Wellcome Institute for the
History of Medicine); PhD Examiners: Professor William
Parry-Jones (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Royal
Hospital for Sick Children, Yorkhill, Glasgow) and Michael
Hunter (Department of History, Birkbeck College, University of

Previous Positions

Senior Lecturer in History/History of Medicine, School of Arts and Humanities, Oxford Brookes Univerisy, 1996-2006
Wellcome University Award Holder, Centre for the History of Medicine, Oxford Brookes University, 1996-2001
Wellcome Post-doctoral Research Fellow, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, 1991-2005


Member: Society for the Social History of Medicine
Member: Scottish Society for the History of Medicine
Member: Editorial Board, Journal of Forenisc Psychiatry
Member: Editorial Board, History of Psychiatry
Member: Network for the History of Hospitals
Member; Network for the History of Medicinal Receipts

Honours and Awards


1983-4 Undergraduate Studentships
(awarded for highest quality of course work)

1983-4 Undergraduate Skeel Essay Prize
('The non-decorative meanings of the Bayeux Tapestry

1987-88 & Postgraduate Research Studentship
1988-9 (relinquished)

Major State Studentship (for Postgraduate Research)

Scouloudi History Research Fellowship (ca. £6,000)


French, some Latin and Danish

Recent Research

 My most recent research has been in the following 3 main areas:

1) The history of Broadmoor Hospital, Crowthorne (England) ca. 1863-1913, and of Perth Criminal Lunatic Sept. (Scotland), ca. 1853-1913, focusing on sex offenders, arsonists, non-capital offenders and infanticide case sin particular. 

Outputs from this project include:

Andrews J. The boundaries of Her Majesty's Pleasure: discharging child-murderers from Broadmoor and Perth Criminal Lunatic Department, c.1860-1920. In: Jackson, M, ed. Infanticide: Historical Perspectives on Child Murder and Concealment, 1550-2000. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002, pp.216-248.

Jonathan Andrews, 'From stack-firing to pyromania: medico-legal concepts of insane arson in British, US and European contexts, c. 1800-1913. Part I', History of Psychiatry, 2010 Sep; 21 (83 Pt 3):243-60.

Jonathan Andrews, 'From stack-firing to pyromania: medico-legal concepts of insane arson in British, US and European contexts, c. 1800-1913. Part 2', History of Psychiatry, 2010 Dec; 21 (84 Pt 4):387-405.

2) The relationship between mortality and insanity, ca. 1750-1913, focusing on pathology, post-mortem dissection, burial, funerals/memorialisation, the mediation of death by the family/clergy and wider community. Outputs from this research include:

Jonathan Andrews (ed.) Lunacy’s Last Rites: Dying Insane in Britain, c. 1729-1939. Special issue of History of Psychiatry, forthcoming March 2012, with an introduction and article by me entitled ‘Death and the dead-house in Victorian asylums: necroscopy versus mourning at the Royal Edinburgh Asylum, c. 1832–1901’, and an extract from JC Prichard’s Treatise on Insanity (1835) edited with an introduction by me.

3) The relationship between insanity and religion, ca. 1700-1900, especially religious enthusiasm, the role of asylum chaplains, and religious delusions

Jonathan Andrews, 'Cause or symptom? Medical contentions surrounding religious melancholy in late Georgian Britain', in Richard Terry (ed.) 'Depression in the Enlightenment', Studies in the Literary Imagination (special issue), forthcoming 2012


Research Interests

  • History of psychiatry, c.1600-1914 (esp. British)
  • History of criminal insanity, forensic psychiatry, crime and insanity, c.1800-1914
  • History of madness/insanity/mental illness
  • History of idiocy/learning disabilities
  • Gender and psychiatry
  • Institutional histories
  • Narratives and medicine
  • Travel, invalidism and medicine
  • Poor law and medicine
  • Domestic and household medicine

 Dr Andrews web pages are currently under revision. 


Undergraduate Teaching

My teaching during 2005-6 is limited to Masters and PhD teaching. But from 2006-7 I will be offering specialist courses to Stage II (2nd and 3rd year) students on the history of sexuality and the history of insanity and mental disability.

Previously, I have taught for over 7 years at within the School of Arts and Humanities at Oxford Brookes University, both at Masters and Doctoral level, and at undergraduate level, where I was module leader, or part of a team, teaching a range of courses from 'The Origins of Modern Europe 1600-1815' and 'The Age of Revolutions', to 'Medicine and Society in Europe 1650-1914' and 'The History of Sexuality and the Body, c1650-1850'.

Postgraduate Teaching

I contribute to the Masters in the History of Medicine in the School. I am module leader on a Masters special study course being offered from Jan. 2006, entitled 'The History of Hospitals in Europe, c. 1650-1850', and I also contribute equally, with 2 other colleagues, to the core element of this MA, SHS824, and teach the special study element (with 1 other colleague), SHS825, 'Madness and Medicine: Concepts and Treatments of Mental Illness from Antiquity onwards'.


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