Charlesworth, Edward Parker (DNB00)

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CHARLESWORTH, EDWARD PARKER (1783–1853), physician, was son of John Charlesworth, rector of Ossington, Nottinghamshire, whose father was a medical man and was brother of another John Charlesworth, a well-known clergyman [see under Charlesworth, Maria Louisa]. After a pupilage with Dr. E. Harrison of Horncastle, he went to Edinburgh, where he graduated M.D. in 1807. He married a daughter of Dr. Rockcliffe of Horncastle, and settled at Lincoln, where he acquired a large practice. He became physician to the Lincoln county hospital, and from 1820 visiting physician to the Lincoln asylum for the insane. Having become conversant in Dr. Harrison's private asylum with the extremely coercive methods of treating the insane then in vogue, Charlesworth devoted his energies for many years to improving the system at Lincoln, and very early secured the issue of an order forbidding attendants to use restraint or violence without the consent of the directors. He brought about successive improvements of the structure and arrangements of the asylum, and secured in 1821 a classification of patients and opportunities for their full exercise in the open air. In 1828 he obtained an order 'that every instrument of restraint when not in use be hung up in a place distinctly appropriated to that purpose, so that the number and nature of such instrument in use at any time may appear.' Various more objectionable instruments were destroyed, and the house surgeon was ordered to record every case of coercion. Finally, when a house surgeon named Hadwen was in office in 1834, for some weeks no single patient was under restraint. While Mr. Gardiner Hill was house surgeon from 1835 onwards, mechanical restraint was practically abolished, and the experience of this asylum powerfully influenced Dr. Conolly in resolving to abolish restraint at Hanwell. Mr. Hill afterwards claimed the sole merit of this result; but Charlesworth's long uphill fight for many years was undoubtedly the main factor in producing it (Lancet, 6 Nov. 1863, pp. 439–42).

Charlesworth was a most capable physician, devoted to the poor, accomplishing much by rigid economy of time, very practical in everything, a strict disciplinarian, yet zealous in wise reforms. He died of paralysis on 20 Feb. 1853.

[Lancet, 12 March 1853, p. 255; Extract from Lecture by Dr. Conolly, Lancet, 14 May 1853, p. 458; Lancet, 5 Nov. 1853, pp. 439–42; Medical Times and Gazette, 19 March 1853; Conolly's Treatment of the Insane, 1856; Sir J. Clark's Memoir of John Conolly, 1869; Charlesworth's Remarks on the Treatment of the Insane, 1828.]

G. T. B.