Henry Landor

Henry Landor (1815 – 6 January 1877) was the first medical superintendent of the Asylum For The Insane, London, Ontario, which was built to his specifications. He was one of those at the forefront in North America of the movement for moral treatment of mental patients. Earlier in life, he was a settler, farmer, physician, scientist, and explorer in Western Australia, and then he became a naval surgeon in South Africa.

Early yearsEdit

Henry Landor was born in 1815 in Anglesey in Wales. He was educated in Liverpool under the care of Dr Prince. He graduated in the session of 1835–36 from the Aldersgate School of Medicine in London, England, receiving a Silver Medal.[1][2]

Western AustraliaEdit

Landor and his brothers Edward Wilson Landor, a lawyer,[a] and George W Landor, arrived in the Colony of Western Australia on Advocate on 27 August 1841 together with their subsequent business partner Nathan Elias Knight.[3] Landor was appointed a magistrate on 16 November 1841.[4]

The Landors intended to build up a large flock of sheep over six or so years but discovered that squatting on Government land was not permitted and so Henry and George farmed in partnership with Nathan Elias Knight, leasing Balladong Farm from Rivett Henry Bland "at a high rent",[5] a 1,600-hectare (4,000-acre) farm[b] in York, and "wasted capital upon objects that could never bring in a good return". They also without permission let their sheep graze upon Crown lands "on the Dale"[c][6] and the Hotham[7] and advertised for sheep and cattle "on shares". George remained farming as one of the shepherds, Henry wanted to explore, while Edward tried to grow vegetables and practised law in Perth; they also obtained some financial assistance from their father.[8]

Landor became concerned with the spread of disease among the Aboriginal people. It was his opinion that contact with white settlers had been the cause of the virulent diseases. He took it upon himself to gather as many Aboriginal people as he could to look after them properly, effectively residing among them,[9] and he applied unsuccessfully for government money for a hospital, though received some funds for medical treatment.[10][d]

Knight and Landor got Bland's corn-mill functioning[13] and continued to farm Merino sheep on their property as Bland and Trimmer had done before.[14] Landor and Knight won the York Agricultural Society's first prize for the best merino ram.[15] Landor was involved in the early discussions on behalf of the Society with the Government with a view to bringing convicts to Western Australia.[16]

In 1842, Henry Landor and Henry Maxwell Lefroy explored to the east of King George's Sound, taking with them to help translate, the 10 year old Aboriginal boy Cowits, who was living in the Landor household. They discovered a "very large tract of excellent land, well-watered and abounding with herbage".[17][18]

Landor's partnership with Nathan Knight was dissolved on 2 September 1844.[19]

In December 1844, Landor explored the Deep River and reported that the country he passed over was well adapted for sheep and stock grazing and well supplied with water and timber,[20] including a "tree so high (63 paces to the first branch) that he could not look over it".[21][e] A storm came and Landor and his "servant"[f] took shelter in the hollow of an old jarrah tree that was so large it could even hold the horses.[23] For a while in 1845, Henry and George Landor tried to establish a residence on Newdegate Island at the mouth of the Nornalup Inlet with a plan to catch and salt fish for the Mauritius market, graze sheep and export timber. Henry succeeded in building two large boats from less than half of one tree and "he was well satisfied of the fitness of the timber for the purpose".[g] On the nights of 28 and 29 August 1845, they discovered that local Aboriginal people had crossed over from the mainland and stolen a ton of potatoes. In a skirmish, Henry shot an Aboriginal person. Two months later, on 8 November 1845, Henry was preparing to leave Albany on the Paul James for South Australia.[24]

Medical careerEdit

In 1845, he took up a position as Government Surgeon to the British Naval Forces at Cape Coast Castle, Cape Town, South Africa.[25] He developed malaria and had to return to England to convalesce, where he developed an interest in insanity.[2]

Caring for the insaneEdit

In 1850, he became the resident physician of the Higham Retreat in Norwich, England. In 1859 he became a member of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

In the fall[when?] of 1860, he emigrated to Canada and settled in London, Ontario. He engaged in private general practice until 1868.[2]

From 1868 to 1870, he was appointed medical superintendent of the Malden Lunatic Asylum in Amherstburg, and then in 1870 he became the first Medical Superintendent, Asylum For The Insane, London, Ontario, which was built to his specifications.[26]

"With so many incurables", he wrote, "treatment is confined to taking care of comforts (including) good and nourishing food, clothing [the insane] well, and working with those who have the strength to work, exercising out of doors those who can walk." He believed in amusement and occupation "daily dances in the afternoon for an hour or two, music, stereoscopic views, etc and [the patients] spin, knit, and make all the socks and stockings used. Employment is the rule of treatment."[27]

"The admirable order, discipline and working condition in which he left the institution bear ample testimony to the zeal and fidelity of his unremitting labors. He was a true, though unostentatious philanthropist. His constant aim appeared to be the good of his fellow creatures."[1] Landor introduced the "cottage system" to North America. The cottages were small satellite buildings on asylum grounds which eased overcrowding and afforded greater freedom of activity to chronic, quiet patients.[28]

Landor expressed resentment at the control exerted by Inspector John Woodburn Langmuir, who was responsible for Prisons and Public Charities, complaining in 1876 that the system had become "too unbearably military for endurance".[26]

Landor died at the London Asylum for the Insane, Ontario, on 6 January 1877 "burdened by diabetes, depressed and disillusioned".[26]

The London Daily Free Press described him as "a gentleman universally respected on account of his attainments, and independence and sincerity of character and those with whom he was on intimate friendship felt an affection for him which may be said to be rare".[29]

Academic workEdit

Landor's publications or other academic work included:

  • Observations on the physiology of the aborigines (1842),[30] which were controversial.[31]
  • Experiments on the poisonous Blackadder Creek Plant (1842).[32]
  • A pamphlet entitled "The only way to stop the slave trade", c. 1850, which was favourably received by the public.[2]
  • "Insanity in Relation to the Law", a paper presented to the Association of Officers of Asylums for the Insane in the United States and Canada (1871).[26]
  • "Hysteria in Children as Contrasted with Mania", published in London, Ontario (1873).[26]
  • Observations on ground-ice as a carrier of stones and debris.[33]

Personal lifeEdit

His cousin was Walter Savage Landor.[1] In 1852, he married Mary Shaw in Stockport, England and they had 10 children, the first four of which were born in Norwich and the rest in London, Ontario.[34]


  1. ^ Edward was the author of a book about the colony called The Bushman, Life in a New Country, to which Henry contributed.
  2. ^ This farm was later purchased by the Parker family.
  3. ^ Beverley.
  4. ^ Landor was on the Medical Board and also assisted to raise funds for the Methodist Native School of John Smithies.[11][12]
  5. ^ The tree was apparently jarrah.[22]
  6. ^ The servant was probably Cowits.
  7. ^ Today, two circular stone fireplaces covered by undergrowth are all that remain of the Landors' venture.


  1. ^ a b c H M Hurd: The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada (Volume 4) online
  2. ^ a b c d The American Journal of Insanity, p.206
  3. ^ Rica Erickson: Dictionary of Western Australians
  4. ^ "From the Government Gazette". Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. 27 November 1841. p. 4. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  5. ^ Edward Wilson Landor, The Bushman, Life in a New Country, Chapter 20.
  6. ^ Inquirer, 29 September 1841,p.1; 13 October 1841, p.6.
  7. ^ Edward Wilson Landor, The Bushman, Life in a New Country, Chapter 20.
  8. ^ Inquirer, 2 March 1842, p.4.
  9. ^ Edward Wilson Landor, The Bushman, Life in a New Country, Chapter 16.
  10. ^ John E Deacon: A Survey of the Historical Development of the Avon Valley with Particular Reference to York, Western Australia During the Years 1830–1850, UWA, 1948, p.118-119; CSC Inward Letters, 30 May 1842.
  11. ^ "Local". Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. 8 April 1843. p. 1. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  12. ^ Inquirer, 15 February 1843, p.2.
  13. ^ "Corn-mill". The Inquirer. 15 December 1841. p. 1. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  14. ^ "Second Annual Report of the York Agricultural Society". The Inquirer. 30 March 1842. p. 4. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  15. ^ Inquirer, 25 October 1843, p.3.
  16. ^ Inquirer, 17 April 1844, p.3; Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal 20 April 1844, p.3.
  17. ^ "(untitled)". The Inquirer. 2 November 1842. p. 2. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  18. ^ "(untitled)". Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. 5 November 1842. p. 2. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  19. ^ "Advertising". The Inquirer. 18 September 1844. p. 1. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  20. ^ "Local". Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. 21 December 1844. p. 2. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  21. ^ "(untitled)". The Inquirer. 25 December 1844. p. 3. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  22. ^ Edward Wilson Landor, The Bushman, Life in a New Country, Chapter 30.
  23. ^ Edward Wilson Landor, The Bushman, Life in a New Country, Chapter 30.
  24. ^ Lee and Geoff Fernie: In Praise of a National Park: The Origins and History of the Walpole-Nornalup National Park; Inquirer 1 May 1850; ARM Correspondence Received 2 September 1845 and 7 November 1845 (BL).
  25. ^ "English News per 'William Wise'". The Inquirer. 9 June 1847. p. 1. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  26. ^ a b c d e C L Krasnick: "In charge of loons, a portrait of the London, Ontario Asylum for the Insane, 1984", Ontario History, 74(3), 138–184
  27. ^ Ontario, Legislative Assembly, Sessional Papers, Annual Report of the Medical Superintendent, London Lunatic Asylum, no 4, 1872, p.155
  28. ^ T J W Burgess, Institutions for the Care of the Insane in Canada, Toronto, 1898, p.35
  29. ^ Website: https://www.lib.uwo.ca/archives/virtualexhibits/londonasylum/landor.html
  30. ^ "Correspondence". The Inquirer. 4 May 1842. p. 3. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  31. ^ e.g. "To the Editor of the Perth Gazette". Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. 12 November 1842. p. 3. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  32. ^ "(untitled)". Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal. 14 May 1842. p. 2. Retrieved 18 December 2019 – via Trove.
  33. ^ Cambridge Core, Vol 3, Issue 10, October 1876, pp.459-463.
  34. ^ Ancestry.com: Family tree for Mosely/Bull/Salisbury/Archer/Lygo