Royal Edinburgh Hospital

Scope and Content

Management 1792-1948; administration 1807-1982; finance 1841-1971; history and publications 1845-1983; staff 1846-1985; patients (bound records) 1817-1971; patients (unbound records) 1900s-1960s

Administrative / Biographical History

First appeal launched in 1792 by Andrew Duncan Snr. A government grant in 1806 funded the purchase of land in the Morningside area. The foundation stone of the Edinburgh Lunatic Asylum, designed by Robert Reid, was laid in 1809 and its first patients - all fee paying -were admitted four years later. In 1842, a new William Burn building was added to accommodate pauper patients and others who could not afford the higher rates of board. This was known as "West House" in contrast to the original "East House". A succession of influential keepers and medical superintendents (W Mackinnon, F Skae, T S Clouston ensured an international reputation for the Asylum. A further building, Craig House, was added in 1894. Renamed the Royal Edinburgh Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders in 1922, the Jordanburn Nerve Hospital was added seven years later for the treatment of informal patients. A children's clinic began in 1931. In 1948, the hospital became part of the Royal Edinburgh and Associated Hospitals. The Andrew Duncan Clinic opened in 1965; the Young People's Unit in 1968, the Alcohol Problems Unit in the same year and the Jardine Clinic in 1982. In 1994, it became the Edinburgh Healthcare NHS Trust Hospital, and in 1999 the Lothian Primary Care NHS Trust.


Chronological within record class

Access Information

Public access to these records is governed by the UK Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the latest version of the Scottish Government Records Management: NHS Code of Practice (Scotland). Whilst some records may be accessed freely by researchers, the aforementioned legislation and guidelines mean that records with sensitive information on named individuals may be closed to the public for a set time.

Where records are about named deceased adults, they will be open 75 years after the latest date in the record, on the next 01 January. Records about individuals below 18 years (living or deceased) or adults not proven to be deceased will be open 100 years after the latest date in the record, on the next 01 January. Further information on legislation and guidelines covering medical records can be found on the LHSA webpage (

LHSA can support the use of records closed to public access for legitimate clinical, historical and genealogical research purposes. Please contact the LHSA Archivist for more details regarding procedures on how you can apply for permission to view closed records. Telephone us on: 0131 650 3392 or email us at

Acquisition Information

Royal Edinburgh Hospital February 1983


Compiled by Mike Barfoot and Jenny McDermott using existing handlists

Other Finding Aids

Manual item-level descriptive list available

Custodial History

Records held within the National Health Service prior to transfer


Further accessions are expected

Related Material

Birrell, Jill, clinical psychologist (GD1/60)Catford, Edwin Francis, hospital historian (GD12)Clouston, Thomas Storer, and the Royal Edinburgh Asylum (GD16)Duguid, Margaret, nurse (GD1/34)Royal Edinburgh and Associated Hospitals Board of Management (LHB14).Royal Edinburgh Asylum Physicians Library (GD17)Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh Samaritan Society (GD2)Royal Medico-Psychological Association, Scottish Division (GD15)