Hannah Spires, Killing > infanticide, 16th January 1751.

Reference Number: t17510116-52
Offence: Killing > infanticide
Verdict: Not Guilty

159. (M.) Hannah Spires , spinster , was indicted on the coroner's inquisition, for the murder of her bastard child , Dec. 9 *

Susannah Cooney . The prisoner lived servant with me. On the 8th of last month, about 8 o' clock in the morning, I heard the prisoner groan; she had complained of the tooth-ach before; I thought she had it again; she lay in the yard upon the stones: I went to her she said she was very bad; I asked her, if she was with child? She said no; I desired her to get up, she would not; said I if you will not go into the kitchen, go up into the one pair of stairs room and lie down on that bed; she did. I sent the girl up to her to see if she would have any breakfast, she said she could not eat any thing. After dinner I went up to her, and said, she must have something to eat or she would be worse; I made her some panado and carried it up: after that I sent the girl up, who gave her some more; and in the evening between 6 and 7 o'clock my husband and I went to a neighbour's house; when we came back, I sent the girl up to know if she would not come down; she sent word she would not come down that night; I went up, and when I came there I saw something I did not like. I thought to myself there must be a child born, I took up a corner of the bed, and under that was a child. I called her murdering slut, or something like it ; she made no answer, I drove her down stairs to her own bed, which was in the kitchen.

Q. Have you had children?

S. Cooney. Yes, I have. This child seemed to be at its full growth, but I did not examine its nails, my lord.

Q. Had she made any provision for it?

S. Cooney. She did say she had things at her mother's for it.

Q. Did there appear any wounds or marks on the body?

S. Cooney. No, there did not, my lord, or any settling of blood.

John Cooney confirmed the testimony of his wife.

Sarah Bull . I live servant in this family. After my master and mistress were gone out, in the evening I went up to see how she did, and carried her some panado, she drank it; when my mistress came home she went up and made her come down stairs; then my mistress ordered me to bring a candle, and there was a child wrapped up in two cloths, one round the head, the other round the body.

Mary Rogers . I am a midwife. About half an hour after 10 that evening I was called out of my bed to this house; there sat the prisoner in a chair by the fire; I went to look at the child; there were all things together that should come into the world. It is my opinion the child was stagnated in the birth for want of help. When I came to clean it, there were no marks of violence upon it; the child was at its full growth, nails and every thing.

James Atkinson . I am an apothecary. The child was carried to Shoreditch workhouse; there I viewed the body, I found no marks of violence upon it; I apprehend the child might be suffocated either in the birth or afterwards; but I am apt to think it was born alive, because there were settlings of blood interspersed all about the body.

Q. Could it breath and yet be suffocated in the birth?

Atkinson. Yes, my lord, it might.

Eliz. Spires. The prisoner is my husband's daughter; she had some childbed linen at my house in her box; she had been at my house about a week before. I took the things out of the box. They were produced in court.

Acquitted .


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