Esther Rowden, Killing > infanticide, 21st October 1761.

Reference Number: t17611021-27
Offence: Killing > infanticide
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death > death and dissection

311. (M) Esther Rowden , single woman , was indicted for the wilful murder of her female bastard-child . She likewise stood charged on the coroner's inquest for the said murder, Sept. 21 . +

Mary Evans . I have known the prisoner better than six years. I had a mistrust she was with child, but she denied it to me.

Q. How long before she was brought to bed?

M. Evans. Better than two months before.

Q. How came you to tax her with it?

M. Evans. I thought she grew bigger.

Q. Did she live near you?

M. Evans. She was my servant .

Q. Where do you live?

M. Evans. I live in St. Martin's-lane, at the Star and Garter ; she was brought to-bed at my house.

Q. How do you know that?

M. Evans. I found the child in the copper-hole on Tuesday morning, the 22d of September. I perceived her grown thinner, and suspected she had been delivered, and I looked all over the house.

Q. Did she say any thing about it after you found the child?

M. Evans. She was talked to, but not by me, I was not by at the time.

Q. Was there any thing to cover the child when it was found?

M. Evans. There was a black petticoat of the prisoner's about it, and there was a red garter tied about it.

Q. Whose garter was it?

M. Evans. That I can't tell.

Q. Whereabouts was it ty'd round it?

M. Evans. It was ty'd round on the top of the petticoat, round the neck of the child.

Q. Was it ty'd tight?

M. Evans. Not very tight.

Q. Was it ty'd with a hard knot?

M. Evans. I cannot be positive whether it was a hard knot or no.

Q. Was the child male or female?

M. Evans. It was a girl.

Q. What did the prisoner say about it?

M. Evans. I never heard her say any thing, one way or the other.

Q. Is the petticoat here?

M. Evans. It is not.

Susanna Woan . I am a midwife; I have known the prisoner some years, I always took her to be a very sober person, I never had an ill opinion of her before this.

Q. Did you see the child?

S. Woan. I did.

Q. Had it come to its full-time?

S. Woan. It had.

Q. Was you by when it was found?

S. Woan. No, I was not.

Q. Where did you see it first?

S. Woan. When the jury sent for me.

Q. Was any thing ty'd about it when you saw it?

S. Woan. No, there was not. Mrs. Evans sent for me, I went; she told me Betty was in the yard in labour. I went to her, and said, How do you do? She said, Very well. I said, You seem to be in labour. She said she was no more in labour than I was. I said, Come, go in, you are not the first that has done a fault. She would not go in; her master sent for her in; she went up stairs; after some time I found there were consequences which plainly proved there had been a child born; she was quite clear, and the other part she had made away. There was a great deal of milk in her breasts; I believed she had been delivered of a child within twelve hours.

Q. Do you think the child was born dead or alive?

S. Woan. I cannot tell that, because the child had lain in the copper-hole from the Monday morning till the Thursday afternoon.

Q. Were there any marks of violence upon it?

S. Woan. No, there were not.

Q. Is it your opinion that the child was born dead or alive?

S. Woan. I am not able to say which; had I seen it the same day it was born, I might have known. She denied to Rebecca Graham and me, she ever had a child.

Rebecca Grayham . I saw the child.

Q. Are you a married woman?

R. Grayham. I am, and a midwife.

Q. When did you see it?

R. Grayham. On the Thursday after it was taken out of the copper-hole.

Q. Did it seem to be a child that had come to its full time?

R. Grayham. It did.

Q. Did you see the prisoner at the bar?

R. Grayham. I did; I was sent for on the Monday, the same day she was delivered. I taxed her with being delivered of a child, within 24 hours. She denied it, and said, she had had no child. I never saw her after that, till before the coroner; I took my oath, she had had a child.

Q. Had she milk in her breasts?

R. Grayham. She had.

Ann Jeffs . I belong to St. Martin's-workhouse; on the 21st of last month, the prisoner was brought up into our lying-in room, I asked her several questions. First I said, young woman, I wont to know whether you are in labour. - No, said she; I said you have had a child, she

said not I. Then why do they send you in the lying in room. Then I went to my own room; I had no sooner been there, but I was ordered to go up and examine her again. I said, come young woman, you must unlace yourself, and go to bed. I examined her, and found she had borne a child, this was on Monday night. On the Tuesday morning, I went up to her again, she was up, sitting drinking tea. I said, A good morrow to you young woman, how do you find yourself. She said, Thank God, very well. I called her into a private place, and said, I shall be put to my oath, and I know you have had a child, let me know where it is. Said she, then I will tell the truth. I have had a child. - Was it born alive? - yes, it was. - Well, and what then did you do with it? - Madam; I strangled it. - You shock me so, that I have not power to say any thing to you. What did you strangle it with? - with a string. - You are ruined for ever. Pray who is the father? - a young man at a wholesale tobacconist's at Aldgate. - What did you do with it? - I put it into the copper-hole. I went to to her mistress, Mrs. Evans; she said, I know what you are come about, the child is found they had found it.

Prisoner's Defence.

I never said no such thing to her; she asked me whether the child was born dead or alive. I said, it was born dead.

Guilty Death .

This being Friday, she immediately received sentence to be executed on the Monday following, and her body to be dissected and anatomized.


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