Bad language?

The solution Dr Orange came up with to deal with the problem of communicating with Catherine Jones was to employ a South Walian woman ‘with a knowledge of the Welsh language’ to translate.

However, there was someone else in Broadmoor at the time that he could have called upon – Mary Davies from Llanfaelog, Anglesey. But while Mary probably had more than a mere ‘knowledge’ of Welsh she may have been considered unsuitable to deal with a comfortably married, respectable farmer’s wife whose physical condition was precarious.

A prostitute of ‘generally bad character’, Mary already had three earlier convictions for larceny when she was tried at Beaumaris in 1873 at the age of 18. At that point she was not thought to be insane and was sentenced to 7 years penal servitude at Millbank Prison (now the site of Tate Modern) followed by a year of police supervision. Her prison occupation was knitting. When a series of medical observations at Millbank and later Woking confirmed her insanity, she was transferred to Broadmoor with personal property valued at £6.1s 6d.

It may have been Mary’s bad behaviour at Broadmoor – she is recorded as violent and liable to strike out – that persuaded Dr Orange she would not be a suitable companion for the rather frail Catherine. Or it may have been that, as a prostitute and convicted felon, she was thought morally unfit. Either way, there is no indication she ever met Catherine Jones in Broadmoor and by the time Mary was transferred to Denbigh in 1880, described as ‘demented and incoherent with mania and can attack sometimes at the catamenial periods’, Catherine had already returned to her family in Llanllyfni.

Nicknamed ‘Broadmoor’ by the Denbigh staff, Mary Davies was ‘occasionally passionate’ but she proved useful in the kitchen and remained in the asylum until her death in April 1914 from heart disease.

(see also Mary Broadmoor transcript).