RepositoryRoyal Archives
CollectionHalford Papers
Record TypeDiaries
ReferenceGEO/ADD/15/874
TitleDiary of Sir Henry Halford regarding the treatment of George III during his mental illness
Date5 October 1811 - 29 January 1812
WriterHalford, Henry, Sir, 1st Baronet
DescriptionThe diary consists of daily entries containing medical notes, including the King's pulse and details of medications taken, and a copy of the report sent to the Queen's Council or the Prince Regent. These describe the King's behaviour the previous day, including how well he has eaten, and how he has slept, and whether restraint has been considered necessary. They conclude with an account of that morning's interview between the King and his doctors. The initials of the physician responsible for the report are given, and Halford occassionally records further notes underneath. In addition to Sir Henry Halford, the King's doctors include Dr William Heberden, Dr Robert Willis, Dr John Willis, Dr David Dundas, and Dr Matthew Baillie.

In addition to taking the King's pulse and other medical observations, the morning interview between the King and his doctors appears to have been an occasion for them to challenge and attempt to correct the King's 'false ideas'. Sometimes he is referred to as receiving the doctors 'with kindness' or 'good humour', but on other occasions violent fits of anger result in the doctors abandoning the interview.

The King's behaviour is shown to have been varied: from occasional quietness to continuous talking, for example on the 16 January 1812 when 'the K talk'd rapidly & violently for 25 hours without intermission'. Most entries contain references to the King talking with 'imaginary company' and arranging concerts for them and playing on his harpsichord. This company often comprises people no longer alive, such as his children Prince Octavius and Princess Amelia, and reference is made to the King's 'female favourites' [Lady Pembroke and Lady Caroline]. The reports often refer to the King 'adjusting the bed clothes', his 'determined disregard to cleanliness' and his regular conducting of a ceremony before dinner. One of these ceremonies is described in the account on the 8 November 1811: 'H.M. said Grace audibly, & solemly, and then observed all the rest of his religious ceremonies deliberately crossing himself on the forehead & breast, & mentioning the Favorites in whose names as well as his own, he ate the bread & drank the water & terminating the whole with an anthem'.

Includes questions from the Queen's Council and answers by Halford relating to the King's mental and physical health, and the likelihood of his recovery, 5 October 1811 and 4 January 1812.
LanguageEnglish
Document Image

GEO_ADD_15_874.pdf

Extent1 volume (197 pages)
Physical DescriptionBound manuscript volume; brown leather
LevelItem
CreditCrown Copyright
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