Charles Snape


Charles Snape was born in Chester in about 1812. His parents owned a brewery, but his father died when he was six years old. He qualified MRCS in 1836, and worked in Bolton and Manchester.

In 1848 he married Agnes Taylor (nee Edwards) the widow of Capt William Taylor of the Honorable East India Company, who had five daughters.

In April 1856 he had been working at the Springfields Lunatic Asylum in Surrey for about seven years. An inmate, 65 year old Daniel Dolly, a rat-catcher by trade, had been dancing around the ward and had kicked another patient. Dr Snape thought he should be calmed down by the cold shower treatment; then Dolly hit him on the head. So he was shut in a small shower cubicle for 28 minutes, during which time he was showered with about 600 gallons of cold water. He was then made to take tartar emetic (it had been found that giving making manic patients vomit would calm them down). He died a few minues afterwards.

There was an inquest and Snape was suspended. There was a suggestion of an attempted cover up. The Commissioners of Lunacy prosecuted him at the Old Bailey, but no trial took place. Snape was aquitted and reinstated. He resigned from the post in 1860 and obtained the degree of MD from St Andrew's. He then spent just over a year working in New South Wales, before settling in Morchard Bishop in about 1866.

One of his five children, Emily Lucy, married Dr William John Chichele Nourse who also worked in Morchard Bishop and Bow.

In about 1875 he moved to Wiveliscombe, Somerset, where he died aged 83 in 1896.