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Caring for Persons with Mental Illness

New Hampshire Asylum for the Insane, Main Building, built 1842

Timothy Chandler (1762-1848) and Sarah Abbott (1769-1857)

Generation Five Family 936

SARAH ABBOTT (Joseph4, George3, Thomas2, George1), b. at Concord, 3 Jan 1769 daughter of Joseph and Phebe (Lovejoy) Abbott; d. at Concord, 27 Jan 1857; m. Nov 1787, her second cousin, TIMOTHY CHANDLER (Timothy Chandler4, Tabitha Abbott Chandler3, Nathaniel2, George1), b. at Rumford, 25 Apr 1762 son of Timothy and Elizabeth (Copp) Chandler; Timothy d. 9 Aug 1848.

Timothy Chandler was only eight years old when his father died. As the family was left destitute, Timothy was apprenticed at the young age of eight to Jonathan Hale of Concord who made hand-cards for carding wool. He went with Mr. Hale to Connecticut and finished his apprenticeship there at age 21. Timothy returned to Concord and was in the trade of making hand-cards, but that process soon was mechanized and he was out of business. He switched to gold and silver smithing and developed a business in jewelry and clock making. He lost his house and shop to fire in 1809 but was able to rebuild and had a successful business. He became noted for his tall clocks which are still sold at antique auctions. Sons Peregrine, Timothy, and Abiel were also clockmakers and jewelers, Abiel taking over the business after his father’s death. Daughter Sally’s husband, Abel Eastman, was also a clockmaker. (Timothy Chandler's clock #1 is pictured to the right.)

Timothy was public-minded, involved in the opening of a “signing” school for the deaf and was involved in the opening of the New Hampshire asylum in 1842. This latter interest was perhaps triggered by the circumstances of his children, four of whom suffered from psychological disorders.

In the 17th and for much of the 18th centuries, mentally ill persons were cared for within their families and communities. During the 18th century, as the population grew, there was a shift to persons with mental illness being housed in almshouses or in jail. Often, these persons were chained or otherwise mistreated. By the early 19th century, there was a well-intentioned plan to care for the mentally ill in asylums. This grew out of Phillipe Pinel’s idea of moral treatment. And these early asylums were likely places of optimism and industry. It was believed that with healthy and moral surroundings that a person could be returned to sanity and there was an emphasis on occupational and cultural activities such as sewing, blacksmithing, photography, and writing. Some hospitals published literary magazines featuring the writing of patients.

Timothy and Sarah’s son Peregrine Chandler committed suicide in 1828 at age 35. In 1848, son Timothy Jay Chandler was declared insane and his younger brother Abiel was appointed his guardian. Daughter Sally Eastman also was decreed insane in 1848 and Chandler Eastman was appointed her guardian. Chandler Eastman may have been her brother-in-law, the brother of Sally's husband Abel Blanchard Eastman. The appointment of guardians for Timothy Jay and Sally was done during the time of the settlement of the father's estate and the guardians were to serve the legal interests of these two heirs who were felt to be not able to represent their own interests. It is not known how long Timothy Jay and Sally were mentally ill before that time.

A fourth child, John Bradley Chandler, died at the New Hampshire asylum in Concord in 1864. John Bradley Chandler was a church deacon who was fervent in his religious beliefs. He was dismissed from the South Church in Concord in 1842 due to his “abolition and come-outer sentiments.” A come-outer was a person who advocated for political reform, so it seems that John Bradley was too far ahead of the times for the South Church at Concord. Later, he was described as “deranged by spiritualism” and was institutionalized at the New Hampshire Asylum.

Timothy Chandler did not leave a will. Richard Bradley was administrator of the estate. There was a set-off to the widow Sarah for her dower. The final property division was made in February 1849 with the following heirs receiving shares in the estate: Abiel Chandler, Timothy J. Chandler (with Abiel Chandler as guardian), Judith Chandler, John B. Chandler, and Sally Eastman (with Chandler Eastman as guardian).

Timothy Chandler and Sarah Abbott had twelve children born at Concord.

1. PEREGRINE WHITE CHANDLER, b. 10 Jul 1788; d. 28 Aug 1792.

2. SALLY CHANDLER, b. 11 Feb 1791; d. at Concord, 25 Apr 1856; m. 11 Oct 1808, ABEL BLANCHARD EASTMAN, b. at Concord, 12 Jan 1788 son of Jacob and Abigail (Noyes) Eastman; Abel d. at Belfast, ME, 13 Nov 1822.

3. PEREGRINE HALE WHITE CHANDLER, b. 6 Mar 1793; d. at Concord, by suicide, 18 Jul 1828.

4. Infant, b. 8 Feb 1795 and d. 18 Feb 1795

5. JUDITH CHANDLER, b. 16 Feb 1796; d. at Concord, 4 Jun 1851. Judith did not marry.

6. TIMOTHY JAY CHANDLER, b. 21 May 1798; d. unknown but after 1848. Timothy did not marry and was declared insane in 1848.

7. DORCAS CHANDLER, b. 22 Jul 1800; d. 22 Aug 1800.

8. ISAAC ABBOT CHANDLER, b. 2 Oct 1801; d. at Concord, 11 Oct 1819.

9. JOHN BRADLEY CHANDLER, b. 13 Feb 1805; d. at Concord, 3 Aug 1864; m. 23 Apr 1843, MARIA FRENCH, b. about 1821 of uncertain origins but described as the adopted daughter of Mr. French of Salem. Maria’s death is unknown, but she was living in Ithaca, NY in 1880 with her two daughters.

10. ABIEL CHANDLER, b. 2 Apr 1807; d. at Concord, 22 Apr 1881; m. 31 Oct 1833, MARIA LAMSON FELT, b. at Charlestown, 3 Aug 1813 daughter of Jacob and Eliza (Neagle) Felt; Maria d. at Concord, 12 Jan 1886.

11. SENECA CHANDLER, b. 10 Sep 1809 and d. 1810.

12. ELIZABETH CHANDLER, b. 4 Feb 1812; d. at Concord, 4 Sep 1844. Elizabeth did not marry.


Photo credits:

Chandler, The Descendants of William and Annis Chandler, pp 592-593

Clark, E. Mad Literature: Insane Asylums in Nineteenth-Century America. Arizona Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 4, 42-65.

Delaney Antique Clocks,

New Hampshire County Probate Records, 1660-1973, Merrimack County, 14:456, 21:192, 24:19, 13:139, 29:9, 20:138, accessed through

U.S., Craftperson Files, 1600-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Family sheet for Timothy Chandler and Sarah Abbott:

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