In 1868, an article in the Yorkshire Post about the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum drew attention to Yorkshire's pivotal role in the history of mental health care. It was because of this history, it was claimed, that Yorkshiremen had a special interest in the treatment of the insane. The purpose of this paper is to explore critically this assumption in light of the recent work on the Poor Law's relationship with the asylum. The growth and development of two asylums in the neighbouring North and West Ridings of Yorkshire will be compared and contrasted. The first part of the paper offers a brief explanation of Yorkshire's pivotal role in the history of the institutional approach to the problems of mental health and the growth of institutions in the counties. Central to the paper will be an examination of how each county responded to the differing demands on its resources and how this impacted on the nature of care at each institution. Ultimately, this paper aims to show how Poor Law finances contributed significantly to the development of each institution.