William Tuke (1732-1822), born in York, moved into the family tea and coffee merchant business established by Mary Tuke in 1725, which she then passed on to him in 1755. It would later become part of the Twinings tea company.
After the death of Hannah Mills in York Lunatic Asylum, William Tuke was tasked with developing a more humane alternative to address the treatment of mental illness. This led to the opening of The Retreat in York in 1796. The approach pioneered by the Tukes at The Retreat was at first widely derided, but due to the publicising efforts of his son, Henry Tuke, and his grandson, Samuel Tuke, The Retreat became known worldwide as a model for the humane and more psychologically based treatment of people with mental disorders.
William Tuke was also the first to propose a solution to the growing number of children who were ineligible for Ackworth School in Pontefract in the form of Bootham School.