I n early modern Bethlem the inferior officers and keepers were in much closer personal contact to the patient population than the Governors or medical staff. They shared the patients' environment, and were required to submit to an analogous form of confinement, residing, eating and sleeping within the Hospital walls. They caught the same diseases and were often buried in the same graveyards. It was not doctors or administrators who ruled the roost and determined the tone of patients' lives; rather, it was, in James Carkesse's words, 'th'Azure of [the] sky-colour'd Coats' of the attendants.! The inferior officers, servants and nurses tended to be reviled by contemporaries, however, and have been condemned or ignored by historians. Bethlem's officers and servants have received a particularly bad press, accused by contemporaries and historians alike of beating, starving, fleecing and abusing those under their care. Indeed, 'Bedlamite nurses' have generally appeared as the most notorious of all madhouse keepers.2 Interactions between staff and patients were rather more complex than this paradigm of neglect and abuse would suggest.