Before mental health services were established, it is generally assumed that people suffering mental illness were locked away as with Mrs Rochester, or put on display to e mocked at Bedlam. But in small communities, matters could be dealt with on a local level. There was a wider range of employment than today; everyone could be found some form of work to help out and get by. There was such a lot of social upheaval that many people suffered what we now recognise as depression or other illnesses. From about the mid century, depression was widely acknowledged, along with suicide, as diseases of the English. This is from the Derby Mercury of June 1764. I am impressed with the level of detail to his appearance to make sure he was found.
WHEREAS one JOHN BARKER (supposed to be Melancholy or Insane in Mind) went away the 9th of June, From Bradley in the Moors, Staffordshire; and had on when he went away a pretty good Hat (which he wore slouched,) a brown Coat, and Waistcoat of the same Cloth; which is more soiled than the Coat, Wash Leather Breeches very much soiled, speckled white and black Woollen Stockings, middling good Shoes, with two holes in each Strap, and tied with Leather Strings crossways: he is of a blackish Complexion, black Hair, and black beard, and was shaved about a Fortnight before he went away.Whoever can find the said John Barker, and bring him to mr. WILLIAM CUBLEY’S at the Sign of the Cock in Markeaton near Derby, or to Mr. THOMAS WARD’S, at the Black Swan in Uttoxeter, or to MR WILLIAM SCOTT’S, in Ashbourne, shall be gratefully rewarded, and all reasonable Charges Paid.