Baby Farming Trial

Author: Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle
Date published: 18/02/2012
© Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle - 28th December 1867

Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle

1867 Dec 28th

BABY FARMING - On Friday evening a lengthened inquiry took place at the Mansion-house, Newbury, before Mr Joseph Bunny coroner for that town, and the facts elicited showed that the system of baby farming, now exciting much public attention, is adopted not only in the metropolis and other large centres of population, but also in the rural districts of this country. The inquest was on the body of an illegitimate male child, aged seven months, who died suddenly a few days ago, at the home of Mrs Hamblin, living in Newbury, where illegitimate children have been received for some years past. Owing to the nature of the case the coroner determined upon instituting a searching inquiry, and accordingly every person who could give information as to the treatment the child received was summoned to give evidence. Sarah Ann Fryers, a fashionably attired young woman, who formerly lived in Newbury, but now resides with her friends in Gloucestershire, admitted that she gave birth to the child, and on recovering from her confinement left [it] in the charge of a Mrs Box, at Speen, near Newbury. This woman, who has now three nurse children under her care, kept the child until November, when Miss Fryers gave authority for the removal of the child to the house of Mrs Hamblin, where it died. It transpired that during the past year this woman had received four illegitimate children to nurse, and three of them had died; the parish doctor attended one of the infants, and all the children were buried in the Newbury cemetery. The coroner said it appeared to him to be to be a very improper state of things that the ratepayers of the borough should be called upon to bear the cost of medical attendance upon illegitimate children whose mothers lived in other parts of the country. Miss Fryers took her departure from Newbury about a month ago, and since that time has not seen the child, or heard from Mrs Hamblin respecting it. The coroner said one would suppose that a mother would be anxious about her offspring, whether illegitimate or legitimate. Dr Ligertwood made a post-mortem examination, and Mrs Hamblin's daughter gave evidence that she fed the deceased five times during the day and night, using arrowroot or oatmeal for its food. The jury returned a verdict that the death of the child was occasioned by convulsions through teething, and they also expressed their opinion that the food given to the infant was improper.



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