The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Louisa Perceval and Baptista Woodhouse

Louisa Perceval and Baptista Woodhouse

A hand-coloured carte-de-visite portrait of Louisa Perceval and her cousin Baptista Woodhouse.

Baptista Josephine Wilson Woodhouse (seen here in a red cloak) was born in 1847, the daughter of the Reverend John Woodhouse, Rector of Huish Champflower in Somerset, and his wife Laura Agnes née Trevelyan, daughter of Sir John Trevelyan, 5th Baronet. She married Reverend Frederick Hancock in 1874 at Axminster in Devon, England. The marriage produced six children. The family lived at The Priory in Dunster, Somerset. Mrs Hancock died in 1940, aged 92.

Louisa Harriet Perceval was born in 1844 at Bindon House in Somerset. She appears on the 1851 census living at Chapel Cleeve, a large house near Bridgwater in Somerset. Her father was Ernest Augustus Perceval (1807-1896), the sixth son of Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated. Her mother was Beatrice, daughter of Sir John Trevelyan, 5th Baronet. Baptista and Louisa were therefore first cousins through their mothers.

Louisa never married. On 8 March 1897 she was admitted to Dr Fox’s Asylum, also known as Brislington House, a vast purpose-built private lunatic asylum established by the Quaker Edward Long Fox in 1806 at Brislington near Bristol. At the time of the 1901 census it had nearly 160 inmates and a staff of nearly 100 nurses, servants and laundry maids. Louisa died there on 19 January 1908, aged 63. Her will was proved in London five months later. She left effects valued at £16,414.

Her uncle John Thomas Perceval had previously been an inmate in the same establishment from 1831 to 1832. In spite of the expense, he had endured a brutal regime of deprivation and degradation. He later wrote two books about his experiences in asylums and became one of the founders of the Alleged Lunatics’ Friends Society, an advocacy group started by former asylum patients and their supporters.

Photographed by Samuel Good of Seaton in Devon. An inked inscription verso gives the date, 4 June 1867.


Code: 125978
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