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Lunacy Commission Government Despatch Box, 1890

Constructed of pine and covered in stained ram’s skin, the hinged lid fitted with a brass handle to ensure it was locked before carrying, and embossed with the cypher of Queen Victoria and the bearer’s initials ‘G.H.U.’ for George Harold Urmson. Fitted with a Mordan & Co. lock to the front. Complete with key. The interior stamped with the maker’s details of  H.M. Stationer Wickwar & Co., of 8 Poland Street, London.

George Harold Urmson (1851-1907), educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, was a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn. He was successively the secretary to, and a legal member of, the Lunacy Commission which met at 66 Victoria Street. Its role was to oversee asylums and the welfare of inmates under the provisions of the 1845 Lunacy Act. One of Urmson’s predecessors as secretary and later as a Legal Commissioner was Robert Lutwidge, a barrister and the favourite uncle of Lewis Carroll. Lutwidge was killed by a lunatic who stabbed him in the head with a nail during an inspection of Fisherton House Asylum in May 1873.

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