Elizabeth Warner.
24th October 1770
Reference Numbert17701024-51
VerdictNot Guilty

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687. (M.) Elizabeth Warner , spinster , was indicted for the wilful murder of her female bastard child, by strangling it , August 25 . She likewise stood charged on the coroner's inquest for the said murder. *

Mrs. Smith. I am a midwife; I was sent for to the prisoner on the 25th of August by the officers of the parish, on a suspicion of her having been delivered of a child. I found her in the kitchen; I asked her how she did; and told her I was come to examine her upon a suspicion of her having been delivered of a child. She first said, she had had no child; she at last confessed she had miscarried; and said she was three months gone. She said she was at the vault, and it dropped from her as she sat. I asked to examine her; she said I should not. I examined her breasts, and told her I was sure she was farther gone than she had said. I advised the officers of the parish to send for Dr. Underwood. He came and examined her; he said, she had had a child. The prisoner said it was down the vault; we went to see if there was any child in her room. There was a box locked; I asked her for the key; she would not let me have it till I threatned to break the box open. I opened the box, and found a parcel of dirty things. I found the after-birth in a leather pocket. I looked farther, and found the child wrapped up in one of the prisoner's shifts and petticoats, dead. It was a female child; there was no mark of violence upon it; it had a membrane over it down to its breech; the blood was then fresh in the navel-string.

Q. Was it warm then?

Smith. No.

Q. Could you judge how long it had been born?

Smith. I should think from the appearance, not many hours; she said she miscarried on Thursday.

Q. What do you infer from this membrane?

Smith. It was owing to a very quick labour. I went into the kitchen to her, and asked her if she had any child-bed linen prepared; she said, No.

Q. You said the child was in a shift?

Smith. That was the prisoner's shift.

Q. Was the child at its full time?

Smith. I think it was: it was a very fine child, I saw her again the next day; I asked her how she found herself upon the child's coming into the world; she said, she helped it into the world.

Q. Could you tell whether it was born dead or alive?

Smith. I could not tell that.

Cross Examination.

Q. You say she said she was about three months gone with child?

Smith. Yes.

Q. After that I believe she said it might be four or five months?

Smith. Yes; she might be four or five months gone; that was the most.

Richard Jones . I was sent by the overseers to fetch Mrs. Smith the midwife. The prisoner was very obstinate, I believe for an hour; I stood upon the stairs and listened. They sent me for Mr. Underwood; Mr. Underwood staid, I believe, three quarters of an hour; after that Mrs. Smith got out where the child was. I was up stairs with her when she found it; I took the prisoner to the work-house.

Catherine Mole . The prisoner lodged at my house at the time of this affair; she had been at my house just ten days when this affair happened. A gentlewoman in the house and I suspected her; I asked her if she was with child; she said, No, she was not with child, not married.

Q. What condition of life was she in?

Mole. I believe she had been a servant. I was acquainted with her sister, which was the reason I took her; she said she wanted a lodging for a fortnight or three weeks. She came down stairs on Tuesday, and had a pennyworth of twopenny; she looked very bad; I told her she looked very bad and very ghastly. I thought she was in labour; I sent my child up to her, to tell her I should be glad to speak with her, if she could come down. She came down, and sat upon a chair; when she got up, I thought something was the matter; I went up into her room and asked her; she said she had miscarried; I asked her where it was; she said, in the necessary; and that she was only three months gone. She came down stairs every morning to her breakfast. On Saturday morning she was very bad, the sweat ran down her face like rain; she appeared to be very weak; I suspected there was something more than a miscarriage. I went to Justice Wright's; he desired me to go to the overseers of the parish, and acquaint them with it.

Q. Can you tell from what you observed, what day she might be delivered?

Mole. I can't say; I thought on Thursday, because she told me then she had miscarried.

Cross Examination.

Q. Was any other lodger in the house?

Mole. Yes, Mrs. Milbourn and Mrs. West; both married women.

Q. Was Mrs. West's room near the prisoner's?

Mole. Yes, it joined to it; there is only a partition between.

Q. Where is Mrs. Milbourn's room?

Mole. The two pair of stairs, just under the prisoner's.

Sarah Milbourn . I lodge at Mrs. Mole's house. I saw the child taken out of the box by the midwife. I observed the prisoner to be with child before; I thought he was coming to the Middlesex Hospital to lie in.

Q. Did you observe any marks of violence upon the child?

Milbourn. No; it was a very fine child; it had a cawl over it.

Cross Examination.

Q. Did you in that week hear any thing like a child's crying?

Milbourn. I can't say I did.

Dr. Underwood. I was called to the prisoner. After a great deal of difficulty she was prevailed upon to go under an examination. I examined her, and was clear she had been delivered of a child at more than five months, a child at least six months grown. I did not see the child till the coroner's inquest sat, which was three or four days afterwards. There was a little circle round the neck, but no more than

what might be in any part of a body that had lain some time. I believe it was a mark formed since the death of the child, by one part of the body falling over the other.

Q. Could you judge either by the examination of the woman, or the size of the child, whether it was come to its full time?

Underwood. I don't doubt it.

Q. Can you judge whether it was born dead or alive?

Underwood. I made the experiment upon the lungs. It is usually supposed that if the child is still-born, and the lungs have not been inflated with air, that they will sink; and that if the child was born alive, and the lungs inflated with air, that then they will swim. I tried part of the lungs in a bason of water, and they swam; but I told them before the experiment, that as the child had probably been dead four or five days, that the general air would in that time be let loose from the body, and the lungs might swim. I thought if it turned out in favour of the woman, it would be a proof that the child was still-born.

Q. You don't reckon that experiment to be decisive from the child's having been dead so long?

Underwood. No, I don't. If the child had been born alive, it would infallibly have died. From no ligature being made upon the navel-string, it would bleed to death.

Q. Could you judge whether the child died by the loss of blood from the navel-string?

Underwood. I should not have supposed by the appearance of the body, that it had lost any great quantity of blood; the body was red.

Q. If it had died from the not tying the navel-string, it would have lost a great quantity, I suppose?

Underwood. Yes; I never saw a child that died by the more loss of blood.

Q. How soon would the child have died, if it had died by the loss of blood?

Underwood. It would have died in a quarter of in hour.

Q. How much blood do you suppose might come from the child in that quarter of an hour?

Underwood. Five or six ounces, I should suppose.

Q. So you can't form any opinion whether it was born dead or alive?

Underwood. I own what the woman said to me had some weight. She was going to say something to me, and said she hoped I would be favourable to her. I begged her not to tell me any thing that would do her hurt. I told her she knew whether she was guilty or not; and if she was guilty, her best way would be to go away directly; she said, she would.

Q. She did not go away?

Underwood. She was guarded.

Q. Will you say that in your judgement the child was born alive?

Underwood. I cannot say.

Q. Mrs. Smith says there was a membrane about the child; was it when you saw it?

Underwood. No, it was taken off.

Q. What was the cause of that membrane?

Underwood. The labour must have been exceeding quick, or that membrane would have parted, and have turn off before the child was born.

Q. What do you mean by the labour being quick?

Underwood. That the actual birth succeeded the first pains very soon.

Cross Examination.

Q. How long did the prisoner tell you she was gone?

Underwood. She said four or five months.

Q. Are not quick labours often fatal to the child?

Underwood. Long labours destroy a great number of children; but a great many more children are lost by exceeding quick labours; the safest labours are of seven or eight hours.

Prisoner's Defence.

I was but six months gone; I thought I had three months more to come.

For the Prisoner.

- West. I lodged at Mrs. Mole's, the next room to the prisoner; there was only a this door between her room and mine.

Q. Did you hear any noise of a child's crying, or any noise whereby you might know that a person was in labour?

- West. I have heard people speak in the room, but I did not hear any noise; I was not out of my room an hour from Thursday to Saturday.

- West. I am husband to the last witness; I was at home between twelve and one that day; I did not hear a child cry.

Mr. Allen. I am overseer. I sent for the physician and midwife; I was with the midwife in

the kitchen, when the prisoner seemed a good deal confused, and indeed she seemed to be in liquor; I asked her to let the midwife examine her; she said she did not chuse it.

Charles Johnson . The prisoner lived with me nine months, and was a sober, honest, good servant.

- Lewis. I have known the prisoner from a child; she always bore a good character.

Acquitted .

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