Eleanor Scrogham.
12th October 1743
Reference Numbert17431012-29
VerdictNot Guilty

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491. + Eleanor Scrogham , of St Margaret, Westminster , Spinster , was indicted, for that she on the 13th of September , in the 17th Year of His Majesty's Reign, being big with two Male Children; she on the said 13th of September, the said two Male Children, by the Providence of God, privately and secretly did bring forth alive; which said two Male Children, by the Laws of this Land, are Bastards; and that she the said Eleanor Scrogham , not having God, &c. on the said 13th of Sept. as soon as the said two Male Bastard Children were born, in and upon the said two Male Bastard Children, did make an Assault, and the said two Male Bastard Children, she the said Eleanor Scrogham , feloniously, wilfully, and of her Malice aforethought, in both her Hands did take, and the said two Male Bastard Children being alive, out of her Hands into a Necessary-House did cast and throw, by which casting and throwing, into the Necessary-House aforesaid, and by Reason of the Filth and Excrement therein, the said two Mare Bastard Children were suffocated; of which Suffocation they instantly died; and that the said Eleanor Scrogham , the said two Male Bastard Children did kill and murder .

She was a second Time charged on the Coroner's Inquisition for the said Murder.

Diddle Webster . The Prisoner was my Servant , and she was out of Town with me at Stanmore where I lived; she was taken ill, and said she believed she was nearer her Time than I thought for; I sent her to Town before me. When I came to Town I found she had been Ill; - I had taxed her with being with Child in the Country ||; she at first denied it, and then she said she was *; and that she was married, and had three Months to go.

|| Mrs Webster was so affected she could scarce express herself for Tears.

* The Statute 21 Jac I. c. 27. [inserted in the former Part, p. 277] doth not make a new Offence, but maketh a Concealment to be an undeniable Evidence of the Murder; but the Party confessing herself with Child beforehand is not within the Statute, as was determined on the following Case:

Ann Davis was tried at the Aug. 31. 1664, (before Sir John Kelyng , Knt Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench, Sir Orlendo Bridg Knt. Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and Sir William Wyloe , Knt. and Burt Recorder of London) for dering her Male Bastard Child. Upon the Evedence it appeared, That the Prisoner lived in a Chamber by herself, and went to Bed on Thursday Night well, without any Pain, and in the Middle of the Night ked full of Pain, and knocked some body to come to her, and one Woman heard her knock, but came not to her; and the same Night delivered of a Child, and after she put the Child in a Trunk, and did not discover it till Friday Night following. And all this was found specially, to have the of all the Judges, Whether that knocking or Help at the Time of her Travel, (although the conce it after one Day) exampls her from that Statute. For there was no ary Hunt upon the Body of the Child. But thus far it was agreed by us, That if there be an Intent in the Woman to conceal the Chi ld, then it is Murder by that Statue, though Truth the Child was horn: But if there was no Intent to conceal it, or if she confess with Child before hand, and she is surprised and delivered, no body being with her, this is not within the Statute, because there was to conceal it; and therefore in Case, if there be no Sign of Hurt upon the Child, it is no Murder. Reports, p. 32

Q. Did you know what became of the Children?

Webster. Not then I did not: I asked her where her Child was, she told me it was safe and alive, and that she had put it out; I asked her where, she said, she had put it to Nurse at the Bull and Gate in Holborn, I enquired after it, but it was not to be found there.

Q. Was there any Childbed Linnen provided?

Webster. I did not see any, I heard there was some.

Q. Was not she to have gone away to have in?

Webster. I know no more than I have said.

Jane Thomas . Mrs Webster sent for Afternoon about a Month ago; said she, I, upon a Maid, brought but now she was the at the Bull and Gate in Holborn; we went but it was not to be found. When I came back, I to Mrs Webster, I will ask Question, do you go out of the Room, and me more readily; said I, Sweeth if the Child; said I, I hope you have your Child (for I had a that she had put under the Copper) No, Madam, said she, I have not. I asked her, what she had done with it; said I, I hope you have not murdered it; No, Madam, said she; said I, is the Child in the Vault, she said it was; that she had a Desire to go to the Vault, and that it dropped from her when she was there; we got the Vault searched, and as God would have it, the last Child came up first. I said to the Men that was searching the Vault, (after he had taken up one Child,) young Man, there another Child. - Upon my Oath, I said so to him; I said to the Prisoner, are they both together? Did you throw them down? She said, No, indeed, I did not; said I, are there two Children; she said, I can't there was a great deal came from me, and I was in such Extreme of Pain that if I had had ten thousand Worlds, I could not got off the Vault; and I know that when Women are in such Distress of Pain they cannot stir to help themselves. Said I, if you have murdered your Children it is a crying Sin; it is a Sin against the Holy Ghost, and if that is your Case. I should rather die than live. - I have been a Midwife 18 Years.

Q. Is it usual for Women to desire to go to the Necessary House when they draw near their Time?

Thomas. Yes. - I had a Woman that I attended that stole away from me with that Intent. - I know the first Child had never been handled by any Hand to part them, because we have a particular Method that we know that by, and I believe her Pains were so violent that she could not go from the Place. I know when Women are in the Birth they can neither stand nor go. I asked her why she not call some People; she said she thought Re she should be better.

Q. Were the Children at their full Growth?

Thomas. I cannot say that they were; no Woman in England can swear to a Month in the Birth of a Child; - she declared, before the Justice, that not made any Child-bed Linnen, but that her Sister Orders to make some, and that she there to lie in.

Margaret Oldfield . I got up that Night to wash about twelve o'Clock, and I heard such a Scream that I was frightened out of my Wits; (I am a Servant, and live over against Mrs Webster's said I, to the Washer-Woman, I believe Mrs Webster's Maid is in Labour, and there is no body in the House, and if some Body does not go to her Assistance she will be lost; (I think it was the 13th of September) I knocked at the Door as loud as I could knock, and called with my knocking, and she screamed out at the same Time, but did not come to the Door; and about eight o'Clock in the Morning I saw her open the Windows; I asked her what was the Matter, that she screamed out so? She said, she was taken with the Cramp, and the Cholick; she said, she went to Bed about ten o'Clock; I asked her why she did not come down Stairs; she said, she could not have come down

Stairs for all the World - to the best of my Knowledge the streaming came out of the Room where she lay, up three Pair of Stairs.

Q. Was it known that she was with Child ?

Oldfeild. Yes, it was known.

Thomas Ayers . I was sent for to search Mrs Webster's Vault; I searched a little while, and I found one Child; then I took off the Top of the Vault, and made a larger Search, and found another Child. - As to whose Children they were, I cannot tell; they were supposed to be the Children of the Prisoner at the Bar.

Thomas Ball . On the 14th of September I was at the Examination of the Prisoner; and found, by her Examination, that there was a Child in the Vault; I fetched the last Witness to help me Search for it, and we found a Child: When the Midwife saw it, she said, there was another; and after a further Search I took that up.

- Bennet. The Prisoner's Sister lodges at my House, and I saw her make several Things fit for a Child; the Prisoner was to lie in at my House; I had a Bed ready at a Minute's Warning.

Ann Scrogham . The Prisoner is my Sister-in-Law; she had made Provision for the Child; these are the Things; she was to have lain-in at Mrs Bennet's. - I made the Things by the Prisoner's Order.

Robert Simmonds . I am a Practitioner in Midwifry.

Q. I would ask whether it is usual with Women, when the Time of Child-bed draws near, to have a violent Inclination to go to the Vault?

Simmonds. It is very common; and it is a common Prognostick of an approaching Birth.

Q. Is it not possible, when a Women is in that Condition, for the Child to fall from her?

Simmonds. Yes, to be fare.

Jury. Where did your Servant lie ?

Webster. In the Garret. Acquitted .

The Jury found, on the Coroner's Inquisition, that the Children were still-born.


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