Date published: 17/01/2014
© Liverpool Mercury - Tuesday December 24th, 1867, Issue 6211

Baby Farming in Berkshire

Liverpool Mercury – Tuesday December 24th, 1867, Issue 6211


An enquiry has been held at Newbury, before Mr. Joseph Bunny, coroner for that town, and the facts elicited showed that the system of baby farming, now exciting much publication, 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 held on the body of an illegitimate male child, aged seven months, who died suddenly a few days ago, at the house of a 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 enquiry, and accordingly every person who could give information as to the treatment the child had 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 NewburyCemetery. The coroner said it appeared to him to be 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 had 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 coroner observed that the system of receiving illegitimate children in this way was a most vicious one, and the mortality among the infants at Mrs. Hamblin’s had been very great. 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 child was improper.


Sourced on -  line  from 19th Century British Library newspapers by Ros Clow

Transcribed by Doug Larsen

Sources:On-line from 19th Century British Library newspapers/Ros Clow

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