Fighting back. A ballad about William Frederick Windham, 1862

This series is entitled ‘the voice of the mad’, but sometimes mentally disordered people needed advocates to speak up for them. Normally that would mean a family member or someone in authority such as a local clergyman or Justice of the Peace. You might remember the young Derbyshire woman, Alice Hill, from an earlier podcast. But sometimes those alleged to be mad attracted support from a wider public, who became their voice. William Windham is an example, where crowds rallied around his cause – just as they sometimes did to frustrate what they saw as wrongful confinement. William Frederick Windham was a young man of considerable wealth and unorthodox behaviour, whose relatives tried to use the law to stop him squandering his estate on the grounds that he was mentally incapable of making his own decisions. They failed.

IMAGE: Broadsheet Ballad: ‘Poor Windham’. Bodleian Library, Oxford. Harding B 11(3115).

You can find the extract here or you can listen to a voice recording on our SoundCloud stream using the link below.

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