Mary Shrewsbury otherwise, Killing > infanticide, 16th February 1737.

Reference Number: t17370216-21
Offence: Killing > infanticide
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

23. Mary Shrewsbury otherwise Threwsbury , was indicted for the Murder of her Male Bastard Child, by giving it a mortal Wound with a Knife in the Throat, of the Length of four Inches and the Depth of two Inches, of which it instantly died , Feb. 4 .

She was a second Time indicted by Vertue of the Coroner's Inquest for the said Murder.

Mr. Bay. This Accident happened in Moorfields on Friday 7-night last, Application was made to me on Suspicion of a Murder. I being Overseer of the Poor, went to the House, and the People told me the Child was put down the Vault. I put a Guard in the House that Night, and the next Morning I brought a skillful Mid-wife; we went up Stairs, and the poor Creature the Prisoner, was sitting upright in her Bed, with a Book in her Hand, and the Tears ran plentifully down her Face. There were five or six People in the Room, I asked them if they had searched the Room, they said they had; then I went down and searched the Vault, but I found no more than what is common in such Cases.

Then I ordered the Vault to be emptied, and there was nothing found, though the Contents were well examined. I desired the Midwife to go up and examine the Woman again, she did not care to go without the Beadle, so he went with her, and they searched the Room again, and found the Child in a Hole in the Closet. She owned what was done she did herself, and that this other Woman here only emptied the Pot, so the Justice discharged her because the Prisoner took it all on herself.

Q. Were there any Marks of Violence on the Child?

Mr. Boy. Only the Head cut about half off.

Ann Palmer , Midwife. The Parish Officer sent for me to examine the Prisoner; I found she had been delivered of a Child; when I enquired what she had done with it, she would make no direct Answer, but sat up in her Bed crying, with a Book in her Hand. I could get nothing out of her, but only, that what this Eliz. Bell had done, was by her Orders. I ask'd her what Bell had done; She would not tell me, but only desired I would be favourable, and Bell being gone away, I could not perswade her to tell me where she might be found. At last we found this Bell, and upon her Examination, she said she had put nothing down the Vault but the After-birth; for says she, the Child she threw down there herself. I went to the Prisoner again, and told her that Bell had inform'd us, that she (the Prisoner) had put the Child into the Vault: She own'd she did so, and beg'd I would be favourable in my Information, telling me, it was dead when she put it down. Well, says I, I hope you have not havock'd it; no, she said, she had not. Then the Vault was raked, and nothing found, but the After-burthen: Still she insisted upon it, that her Child was there; upon which it was quite empty'd, but no Child was found. I knew there must have been one born, so I search'd again, with the Beadle and other Women, and I took her out of Bed in a Blanket, and search'd the Bed, behind the Bed I found some Rags stain'd, &c. &c. - at the Feet of the Bed, I found a Box with more Rags in the same Condition: I shook them all out, but found no Child: In another Box I saw something that put me upon enquiring, what she had been doing in it: She told me, she had only put some Cloaths in it. At last we search'd the Closet, and in a Nook which ran into the Chimney, behind a small Trunk, we found it, sew'd up in a Cloth; when I pull'd it out of the Hole, the Prisoner swoon'd away. When she recover'd, I asked her several Questions, - how she could cut her Child's Throat so barbarously, and how she could in her present Condition have Strength to sew it up? She said the Devil had given her Strength, and not God. The Lord have Mercy upon you, says I, and so I left her.

Q. Was the Child's Throat cut very much?

Palmer It could not be cut worse, unless it's Head had been cut quite off.

A Witness. This Bell was the Prisoner's Land-lady, and seeing her come down with a Mop and a Pail from the Prisoner's Room, I asked her what was the Matter; she told me that Mary, (the Prisoner) was not well. I went up, and knock'd at her Door, and she told me, the Key was under the Door; I open'd it and went in, and I ask'd her what she ail'd: I saw Spots of Blood upon the Floor, and I enquir'd how they came there; she said, she was as Women are, when they are disorder'd, but, says she, my Landlady Bell is coming to wipe them up In the Closet I saw a Pan full of Cloths, not very fit to be seen; - what's all this Mary, says I? God bless you, says she, don't say any Thing, I have miscarry'd and was three Months gone. I told her I was sorry for that, but however, I made her some hot Watergruel, and carry'd it to her in Bed, and left her to eat it. When I was got down Stairs, I endeavoured to settle my self to my Work, but I was very uneasy in my Mind, and (to make short of my Story) I could not rest 'till I had made some farther Enquiry. I ask'd her where she had put the Miscarriage, she told me that Bell had put it down the Vault. The Vault was search'd, but it was not there. It was found at last in a Nook, that went into the Chimney: I was present when 'twas pull'd out, and according to my Judgement 'twas at it's full Growth.

Midwife. 'Twas at it's full Growth; it had Hair and Nails perfect, and was a larger Child than is common.

Eliz Bell . I came home that Night about 10 o'Clock, and seeing a great deal of Blood upon the Floor, I asked the Prisoner how it came there; she said, don't be frighted, I have mis-carried, she desir'd me to tell no Body, and beg'd I would carry down the Pot. I got her some hot Ale, and then I went to Bed.

C. You have behav'd very ill in this Affair, and you deserve to be severely reprimanded. You saw all the Symptoms of the Woman's being deliver'd, and instead of making a Discovery, you ran out of the Way. Your Proceeding was very

shameful, and I am afraid you are as much concern'd in this Murder as the Prisoner her self, - Get you gone.

Prisoner. It was dark when I was deliver'd, and the Child was dead. Guilty . Death .


View as XML