NSW Government Logo
  askGovernment | | contact us | indexes online | keyname search | photo search   

Search Options Help

» How to use

» Search tips

» More

State Records Archives Investigator
Agency Detail
 Shopping Cart
No selected items 
Print Record   Decrease Font Size   Increase Font Size
Please note the administrative history information provided on the State Records Authority website is limited in scope and is not intended to be exhaustive. The administrative histories for government agencies found on State Records’ website are intended to provide general information relating to a government body or agency, changes to organisational structure, governance, purpose and may also include details of relevant information and changes made to it from time to time. Major structural or functional changes are generally included to assist in understanding the context of the records held as State archives. For specific information the relevant government body or agency should be contacted directly.

Agency number: 62
Title: Parramatta Lunatic Asylum (1849-68) / Parramatta Hospital for the Insane (1869-1914) / Parramatta Mental Hospital / Parramatta Psychiatric Centre (1915-83) / Cumberland Hospital (1983- )
Start date: 28 Dec 1849
End date:
Category: Psychiatric Hospital

Administrative history note: On 28 December 1849 a notice was published, stating that a portion of the Invalid Establishment at Parramatta had been appointed a public asylum for the reception and custody of lunatics.(1)

The Convict, Lunatic, and Invalid Establishment had replaced the Female Factory when it closed at the end of 1847, leaving only invalid or insane inmates still resident.(2) Personnel were appointed to staff the institution on 1 April 1848 (3), and although separate personnel lists were published for the Convict, Lunatic, and Invalid Establishment, and for the Lunatic Asylum, Parramatta from 1850, the same senior administrative and medical staff were listed as appointed to identical positions in both institutions. (4) In personnel lists for 1856 a list for Lunatic Asylums, Parramatta appears but the Convict, Lunatic, and Invalid Establishment is no longer listed as a separate institution.(5)

From the outset, Parramatta Lunatic Asylum consisted of a free, and a criminally insane division, with separate registers kept for persons admitted into each. On 31 December 1873 Parramatta Lunatic Asylum contained 704 free patients, 45 criminal patients (confined under the provisions of the Criminal Lunacy Act 1860), and 36 convict patients (accommodated within the free division, but as British convicts maintained at the charge of the Imperial Treasury).(6) Only female criminally insane patients were committed after 1958, with facilities for male forensic patients closed in June 1958 and all remaining male patients transferred to a new maximum security unit at Morisset Hospital.(7)

The Lunacy Act, 1843 made provision for the criminal, or dangerously insane to be confined to a gaol or public hospital (8), and also for committal to be ordered for the non-dangerous by means of request from a relative plus two independent medical certificates and agreement from a Supreme Court judge.(9) Conditions regarding the confinement of the criminally insane was amended by the Criminal Lunacy Act 1860 (24 Victoria No 19), and Part 5 of the Lunacy Act 1898 (Act No 45, 1898). Specific provision for voluntary admission was provided by the Lunacy (Amendment) Act 1934 (Act No 39, 1934). Subsequently patients were admitted under the provisions of the Mental Health Act 1958 (Act No 45, 1958), the Mental Health Act 1983 (Act No 178, 1983), the Mental Health Act 1990 (Act No 9, 1990) and the Mental Health Act (Criminal Procedure) (Act No 10, 1990).

In 1868 Dr Frederick Norton Manning described Parramatta Lunatic Asylum as unfit as a residence for those mentally afflicted, with it's "gloomy and ill-ventilated cells and their iron-barred doors."(10) Although a new storey and separate cells had been added to the criminal division building, by 1868 this was full, and overcrowding of the free division remained unallieviated.(11) In June 1885 a new hospital building was completed, and the old central Female Factory building, described as an "unsightly and ruinous pile" was demolished. (12)

Overcrowding remained a persistent problem, in 1951 patient numbers exceeded accommodation by 588.(13) By the 1970s, as the emphasis changed from in-patient care to expansion of community based services and the development of psychiatric units in general hospitals, the in-patient population diminished.(14)

In 1983 the name of the hospital was changed to Cumberland Hospital (15), and by 1995 the Institute of Psychiatry had relocated to the Cumberland Hospital campus, commencing educational programs in the local region in association with the Western Sydney Area Mental Health Service(16).

1 NSW Government Gazette 1849, 28 December 1849, p.1941
2 The Mental Hospital, Parramatta, James Jervis, Royal Australian Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings, Vol XIX, Part III, p.197, Sydney, 1934
3. NSW Government Blue Book 1849, p.378
4. NSW Government Blue Book 1850, p.396-98
5. NSW Government Blue Book 1856, p.446
6. Gladesville Hospital for the Insane, Report for the year 1873, in Votes and Proceedings 1873-74, Vol 5, p.247
7.Health Dept, Histories of various NSW Government Hospitals 1879-1980, Folder for Morisset Hospital, SRNSW Ref:10/50590
8 Lunacy Act, 1843 (7 Victoria No 14) s.1
9. ibid, s.11
10. Tucker, G.A., Lunacy in Many Lands: A report to the Government of New South Wales, Government Printer, Sydney, 1887, p.650
11. Hospital for the Insane Tarban Creek, Report dated 22 October 1868, in Votes and Proceedings 1869, Vol 2, p.633
12. Inspector General of the Insane, Report for the year ended 31 December 1885, in Votes and Proceedings 1885-86, Vol 2, p.508
13. Inspector General of Mental Hospitals, Report for the year ended 30 June 1951, in Parliamentary Papers 1952-53, Vol 1, p.629
14. Report of the Health Commission of NSW for the year ended 30 June 1976, NSW Parliamentary Papers 1976-78, Vol 7, p.731
15.Department of Public Works and Services, Heritage Group, Conservation Management Plan, North Parramatta Government Sites, May 2000, p.16
16.Report of the Western Sydney Area Health Service for the year ended 30/6/1995, p.14


Preceding agencies:
1905 Convict, Lunatic and Invalid Establishment, Parramatta starts by 01 Jan 1856 

Succeeding agencies:

Superior agencies:
16 Colonial Secretary and Registrar of the Records of New South Wales (1821-1824) Colonial Secretary (1824-1856) Colonial Secretary or Principal Secretary to the Government (1856-1859) Chief Secretary...  28 Dec 1849 ~ 30 Jan 1876 
52 Health Commission of New South Wales  01 Apr 1973 ~ 17 Dec 1982 
53 NSW Health Department (1982-2009) Department of Health (2009-2011) Ministry of Health (2011- ) starts 17 Dec 1982 
60 Inspector General of the Insane (1876-1917) / Inspector General of Mental Hospitals (1917-1958) / Director of State Psychiatric Services (1958-1973)  30 Jan 1876 ~ 01 Apr 1973 

Subordinate agencies:
1907 Rydalmere Hospital for the Insane [Branch of Parramatta Hospital for the Insane]  02 May 1888 ~ 04 Apr 1892 

Related agencies:

Functions exercised by this agency:
3 Health starts 28 Dec 1849 

Organisations controlling this agency:

Persons related to this agency:

Record series created by this agency:
5080 Admission files [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1880 ~ 31 Dec 1965 
5081 Case papers [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1870 ~ 31 Dec 1963 
5082 Case papers (criminal) [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1855 ~ 31 Dec 1962 
5083 Case papers (voluntary patients) [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1919 ~ 31 Dec 1963 
5084 Case papers (patients on leave) [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1934 ~ 31 Dec 1963 
5086 Case papers (temporary patients) [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1959 ~ 31 Dec 1963 
5087 Case papers (continuous treatment patients) [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1955 ~ 31 Dec 1965 
5088 Case papers (deceased patients) [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1944 ~ 31 Dec 1989 
5089 Index to patient files [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1930 ~ 31 Dec 1965 
5090 Index to deceased patients [Parramatta Psychiatric Centre]  01 Jan 1962 ~ 31 Dec 1985 
Total 70 Series. Click here to see all...

Record series controlled by this agency:

Return to previous pageReturn to Previous PageStart new searchStart new search