Unamed child

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Date published: 28/04/2017
© Berkshire Chronicle and Reading Mercury

UNAMED CHILD

Berkshire Chronicle - Saturday 15 February 1862

Child Found Drowned—On Thursday last, newly born female infant child was found in the canal, near the Green Man, West Mills, Newbury.
 
Woman named Eliza Elizabeth Stanchan was walking up the cut she saw the child in the water, and immediately called to Thomas Whiting, who was working in a field close by, to come to her assistance. Having succeeded in getting the child out of the water, they conveyed it to the police-station. A bed-gown was also found in the water close to where the child was discovered. From the appearance of the child, the mother had been delivered without the assistance of a midwife, or doctor, and it had never been washed.
 
 An inquest was held on the body, yesterday ("Friday) morning, before J. Bunny,Esq., borough coroner, and it was adjourned until Tuesdaynext, to give the police opportunity to discover the mother, and we understand they are making every exertion accomplish that object.

Reading Mercury - Saturday 22 February 1862
THE LATE SUPPOSED CASE OF INFANTICIDE. On Tuesday last, the adjourned inquest on the body of the infant female child, found drowned in the Kennet and Avon Canal, above West Mills, was resumed before Joseph Bunny, Esq., the Borough Coroner, at the Magistrates' Room. 
 
The evidence of Thomas Whiting and Eliza Elizabeth Strachan, previously taken, having been read over and signed, the first witness examined was At wick Hipkin, who said he lived at West Dean, Sussex, and was an agricultural pupil of Mr. Wentworth, of Burghclere; that he came to Newbury on Thursday, the 13th inst., with Mr. Wentworth, jun., about 11 o'clock, and put at the White Hart Hotel. After transacting some business in the market, he went down the riv9r side, simply for a walk before dinner; he had done so before when in Newbury. When he passed the church towards the cut bank, it was rather more than half-past one o'clock; as he was walking by the side of the river above West Mills, he looked into the canal, and saw a child in the water; he looked at it for a time, when man came along the bank towards Newbury, and he asked him to look the object in the river; the man said he thought it was a dog, or some other animal. The body was naked and doubled up, lying on its side, with its face towards Newbury and its legs towards the bank; there was a cloth spread the water near the child. As he was not quite certain it was a child, he said to the man he thought it was an infant, but the man still thought it was dog, and as the man was older than himself, witness gave way to him, and they then parted. 
 
The man went towards Newbury, and witness continued his walk up the canal bank, and when about 200 yards from the place where the child was, he saw woman; she was apparently of the poorer class, and was tall. Witness thought she was dressed a checked or plaid shawl, or cloak; he believed she had on black bonnet, and wore a brown dress; she stooped rather; he should say she was about middle aged woman, and rather thin. When he first saw her in the field, she was about yards from witness; she was walking on some arable land; there was no footpath at that place; she was going the direction of Enbourn Bone Mills. She turned round or twice as she was walking, and looked towards him. The field adjoined the Kennet bank, and there was gap in the hedge near that place, but he could not swear to her; to the best of his belief he had never seen her before; he passed by the spot again where the child was lying, in about five minutes, on his return, and went to the White Hart Hotel to dinner. Witness told Mr. Wentworth, jun., what he had seen, who appeared much astonished at it; afterwards went to the place, and found that the child was gone; he did not see any boat the river that time. Witness then gave information to the police.
 
 The Coroner complimented the witness for the straightforward manner in which he had given his evidence, and said, that in an enquiry of that nature questions must be put not always pleasing to a witness, which the ends of justice required. Superintendent Deane produced the cloth found near the deceased in the water; it was the night gown of a child several years old. He further stated that the police had made every exertion to find the mother, but had not yet succeeded. the Coroner told the jury that that was the whole of the evidence, excepting that of the medical gentleman, to which he wished them to pay the greatest attention, as Dr. Palmer's testimony would mucb assist them arriving at their verdict.  He had seen throughout the enquiry that they had paid much attention to it and that any further remarks were unnecessary.  Dr Palmer of Speenhamland was then sworn: he stated that he had, by order of the Coroner, made a post mortem examination of the deceased and found that it was a well developed child, and that the body contained no trace of any mortal disease. It was evident that the delivery of the child had not been attended to with the usual proper treatment, and he was of opinion that it must have lived for the least six or eicht minutes, but not longer than 21 hours. The witness attributed the cause of death to suffocation, arising from drowning Dr. Palmer's evidence went most minutely into all the details of the case. 
 
The Coroner, in addressing the jury, carefully explained the evidence of Dr Palmer, which was very important the consideration of their verdict. That medical gentleman had given it as his opinion that the child was born alive, and had lived not less than six or eight minutes, and probably not more than 24 hours, thus proving that it had separate existence from its mother; with these few remarks he would leave it in  the hands of the jury, and he had no doubt but verdict would be agreeable with the evidence they had heard.  The Jury after a brief consultation, returned a verdict of “Willful Murder against some person or persons unknown."

Berkshire Chronicle - Saturday 01 March 1862

NEWBURY BOROUGH POLICE. —WEDNESDAY. (Before J. W. Randall, Esq., mayor; J. Alexander, J, F. Hickman, J. P. Jaokson, and H. Flint, Esqrs.)
 
 A Charge Murder.—Harriet Bishop, aged 28 years, was charged with the wilful murder of her female infant child, drowning her in the canal Newbury, tbe 13th Februarylast. Mr. Beckhuson appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. King for the prisoner.
 
 Atwiok Hopkins was the first witness examined, but there was nothing material in his evidence against the prisoner.
 
 Eliza Elizabeth Stracban deposed that she lived at the Wiers, Speen. On the February last, she came to Newbury, and little before one o'clock, by the side  of the canal, she met the prisoner with basket and a  child in her arms. There was a horse drawing boat  up the water the time, and she told the prisoner to get near the hedge, or else she would be pushed into the water. Between two and three o'clock she went home by the side of the canal, and near Green Man, West Mills, she saw child in the water. She called to an old man near to bring a rake. He brought prop, and they got the child and a night gown out of the water. She put the child and the nightgown into her basket, and took them to the police station. The child appeared to have been in the water only a short time.
 
 Cross-examined—She was shown the prisoner that morning. There were two women in the room, and Superintendent Deane asked her whether she could point out the woman that she had met by the side of the canal, when she pointed out the prisoner. She had no hesitation in saying that the prisoner was the same person. Superintendent Deane said the 13th of Feb. last, Mrs. Strachan brought to him a dead female infant child, and also a night gown, which he produced. The body has since been buried.
 
 From circumstances which had come to his knowledge, he and Superintendent Harfield went to the house of Charles Cannings, at Welford, where they saw the prisoner in bed. asked her whether she knew who he was. She said yes, Mr. Deane. He then cautioned her as to what she said to him. He said to her, " You must be very careful what you say to me, as I shall be compelled to take notice of what you say, and it may appear against you another day." She then began crying. Considerable discussion arose as to the reception of Mr. Deane's evidence, and it was eventually decided against recording it; He afterwards, with Superintendent Harfield, gave some further details of the woman's capture.
 
 Dr. Palmer and Dr. Probyn gave medical evidence, the former to the effect that he believed the child was alive when thrown into the water.
 
 Elizabeth Taylor, of Newbury, said the prisoner had been looking after her mother since Michaelmas last. In consequence of what she had heard, on Thursday last she went over to her mother to see the prisoner. On the next morning the prisoner said to her great deal had been said about her, but it would soon have an end. She said that she had had no child. On Sunday last Superintendents Deane and Harfield came over. There was another child there belonging to the prisoner. It had a night gown on, which she had compared with the one found the water, and they corresponded. On Monday or Tuesday last the prisoner told her that she had had child in her father's house by the side of the kitchen fire. That she afterwards wrapped the child up, and laid under some straw in the cellar. She said she did not kill the child.
 
 Cross-examined—She did not say why she took the child into the cellar. She did not say that she fainted. She did not say that the child was alive or dead when she took it into the cellar. Mr. King said he had a few observations to make, and would confine himself entirely to the charge against the prisoner, namely, that of wilful murder ; upon which charge he would state that the evidence for the prosecution had entirely failed. The only part of the evidence upon which they could place strong reliance was, the conversation with Dr. Probyn and the prisoner herself; but if they looked at all tbe evidence as true and perfect correct, they must come to the conclusion that this woman did not murder her infant child. Dr. Probyn had said that she readily submitted an examination, and voluntarily stated to him that she had been confined about a fortnight since. He asked her if she had had any assistance, and she replied no, and to the question whether it was born alive, she said she heard the child cry, but died soon afterwards.
 
 That was all the evidence before them. Dr. Palmer had stated the child had lived not less than eight minutes nor more than hours. Take that evidence, and they would find that it was perfectly consistent with what the prisoner and the person in the house had stated. The prisoner made statement to what took place after she had been delivered of the child, and which was consistent with the other evidence that had been brought against her. She told Taylor where she was confined, and where she had laid the child. She said she alterwards fainted, and therefore knew not what had occurred. The only conclusion that they could arrive at was, that when she recovered from her fainting fit the child was dead. To hide her shame, and to conceal the birth of her child, she hid it under some straw in the cellar. That afterwards she disposed of it no doubt in the manner that it had been found. He would not address any further re- marks, for he felt confident that the bench could not ! strain the evidence into a committal for wilful murder, The Mayor, after few minutes' consideration, said the bench had come to the decision that they did not consider the evidence was sufficient to commit the prisoner for trial a charge of wilful murder, but there was abundance of evidence for concealment of birth and therefore they committed her for trial on that charge the assizes.
 
 

Reading Mercury - Saturday 01 March 1862

Harriet Bishop, who pleaded guilty to a similar offence on the13th February, at Newbury, sentenced to three calendar months' imprisonment

Footnote: 
It is thought she came from Welford.  In abt 1870 she married a George Ellis had several more children in Wiltshire and died in Chippenham in1884
 

Sources:Berkshire Chronicle 15 February 1862 and 1 March 1862 Reading Mercury 22 February 1862 and 1 March 1862

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