20th February 1793
Reference Numbert17930220-38
VerdictNot Guilty

Related Material

ActionsCite this text | Print-friendly version | Report an error
Navigation< Previous text (trial account) | Next text (trial account) >

232. MARY LEWIS otherwise GREENWOOD was indicted for that she, on the 29th of January , being big with a male child, on the same day, by the providence of God, did bring forth the said male child alive, and which said male child, by the laws of this realm, is a bastard, and that then not having the fear of God before her eyes, on the said male child feloniously, wilfully and with malice aforethought did make an assault in that she a certain piece of silk ribbon, value 1 d. with both her hands about the neck of the said male child did tie, twist, fix and fasten, and the said male child with the same silk ribbon feloniously, wilfully and with malice aforethought did choak and strangle, of which choaking and strangling the said male child then and there instantly died .

Indicted in a second COUNT on the Coroner's inquisition.


I have only the ribbon to deliver that was about the child's neck.


I keep the house; I live at No. 4, New court, Little Chapel-street, Westminster , opposite the Bluecoat school; the prisoner at the bar lodged at my house; I have known her about a year and a half if not more; she came to lodge with me as a servant out of place two or three times; she came to lodge with me the last time about three months before she was brought to bed to the best of my knowledge, she was brought to bed three weeks last Tuesday, she did not give up her lodgings all that three months, but she was away about half the time; she was brought to bed the 29th of January; I saw her the morning of that day, she breakfasted with me about ten o'clock, about eleven she went up stairs to her room, a one pair of stairs room; I stayed in the house all that morning, I was in the house from that time till it was half after three; I did not see any thing more of her only that I spoke to her about half past two, she was in her room and the

door was locked, I tried it to go in, the man, that she says to me was her husband wanted to speak to her, his name is Thomas Lewis , he had called at half past two; on finding her locked in I called to her and asked her to come down, that her husband wanted to speak to her; she told me that she could not come; says she, I cannot open the door Mrs. Williams, I am naked, cleaning myself; I was at the room door while I had this conversation with her, says I, it is me my dear set open the door, and she answered me, Mrs. Williams, I cannot, I am naked, cleaning myself; with that I went down stairs and told the man she would be down presently, he waited a few minutes, I cannot tell how many, and I heard her unlock the door and call him, and he stepped up stairs within a step or two to the top, he did not go into the room; I did not see her at that time; I don't know what passed between them, they conversed the space of five minutes, then he came down stairs and walked out.

Q. Do you know whether she had come out of the room at that time or not? - Yes, she stood at the top of the stairs to speak to him, I heard her voice speaking to him there and saw his shadow on the wall of the landing place.

Q. Do you know what became of her after the man came down? - She went into the room and I could hear the door lock, this might be about three o'clock or something after, very likely there or thereabouts; I went out at that time for the space of ten minutes or a quarter of an hour to the best of my knowledge, when I came back she was down stairs in my apartment sitting by my fire, as near as I can guess it was about four o'clock, I found her sitting by my fire, when I came in I asked her why she did keep herself up stairs, and she told me she was very busy sewing; I told her she could not be at sewing work because her thimble was below, and she put her left hand into her pocket and shewed me another thimble, and, says she, I have got another thimble in my pocket; I went out directly then about my business, I went out with my milk, I sell milk; I came home about half after five to the best of my knowledge, and she was sitting down at the same place then when I came back that time; and she drank tea with me about seven o'clock as usual, she called for a penny loaf and eat as before, there we sat and talked till abour nine o'clock; we had a bed in the two pair of stairs room that we had not an opportunity to make in the course of the day, her room was one pair, this was two pair, I told my niece to go up stairs and make that bed, her name is Mary Williams , she went up and made the bed, and she came down as soon as she made the bed and asked me to go up into the one pair of stairs room; the prisoner was present with me in the lower room in my apartment, my niece did not tell me any thing but desired me to go up into the one pair of stairs room; I went up myself alone and opened the room door, my niece did not go with me she was very poorly, this room door was not locked at that time, that was the prisoner's room, and I was very much frightened to see the room all bloody all over, and I followed it to the closet in the same room, the door was not fastened in any place at all, the door had no hinges. I saw the child lay dead on the naked boards naked without any covering nor nothing, and his little head was in an old slipper of her's in a dark part of the closet; I returned down stairs very much frightened; I did not make any more observations on the child, and I said, what am I to do? what is this that is come to my house? and she asked me, Mrs. Williams, what is the matter? I says, O you brute, you ask me what is the matter, and you know what you have been about locking yourself up stairs

all day, and she begged my pardon; she says, I beg your pardon Mrs. Williams, I could not help it I miscarried; miscarriage or not miscarriage I should know of it; for God's sake, says she, say not a word about it to nobody and I will take it away in the morning, and have it buried, and I will go to my uncle and be there; No, says I, not a limb of it shall go out of my house in that manner; then Mrs. Gibbs came down stairs and asked what was the matter? she is a lodger of mine; I told her there was matter enough with me, that woman had told me she had miscarried, but however, says I, she has got her dead child in the cupboard; with that Mrs. Gibbs answered, let me see the child will tell you whether it is a miscarriage or not; I took a candle and took Mrs. Gibbs with me up stairs, we went together into the room and to the closet, and the prisoner Mary Lewis followed us both up stairs, Mrs. Gibbs took the child up in her arms and turned its head towards the cupboard door; I could then see a ribbon about its neck; says I to Mrs. Gibbs, what is that ribbon about its neck? undo the ribbon; Mrs. Gibbs did undo it and I was present, and then the prisoner threw herself on the side of the bed and laid down, and I asked her what she put that ribbon about the neck of the child for? to draw it from me, says she; it was a slip knot and Mrs. Gibbs took hold of it in one end, and undid it, it was very easily taken off, it was tight about the neck, we could not see a bit of the ribbon about the neck it was so tight but the bow; I told her to take the child down stairs and take it to the fire and rub it; I thought to bring the child to life, and gave her a little brandy to rub it with; but when I considered how many hours the infant had laid it was impossible, but we had it to the fire and tried, but it was as cold as as clay; the trace of the ribbon was very visible in the neck, and the skin was a little raised with the tightness of the ribbon on one side of it; it was a man child; with that we took the child up stairs from the fire and put it where we found it, I and Mrs. Gibbs, and laid it down as we found it; with that I had her put to bed; I told her to go to bed for shame of her; after I had her put to bed I locked the room door, she went to bed in the same room; I had asked her if she would take any thing, and I went down for a man midwife to look at the child.

Q. Before this had you seen any symptoms of a delivery besides the child? - Yes, it was in the pot along with the baby in the closet and an old rag of a pocket handkerchief with it.

Q. You mean the after burden? - Yes.

Q. When did you see the prisoner after this happened? - The next morning, I went up stairs and asked her if she would have something to eat, and asked her why she did not leave the child alive in some corner of the room for me, and if she had a mind to run away herself if she had left the child alive I should not care; I wish I had now Mrs. Williams, says she; whether she meant that she wished she had left the child alive or wished that she had run away, I cannot say.

Q. How came you to forget this before the Coroner? - I answered every thing they asked me.

Q. Did she say any thing about the birth? - She told me it was a miscarriage; I asked her whether she found the child was dead or alive with her? and she told me she believed it was alive in the birth; I went with that and acquainted the people at the office; I went first of all to a gentleman, Mr. Ashmole, in Petty France and told him what had happened and he went with me to the justice's office, Queen-square; she was in bed all this time in my house,

Q. There was no restraint upon her all this time after the child was found. Did you lock her in the next morning? - I did not; the parish people came there about ten o'clock on Wednesday and the woman from the work-house was watching her all night.

Q. You had known this woman a good while, of course you must have had a good opinion of her? - I had a very good opinion of her, if she was a sister of mine I could not have a better opinion of her.

Q. Perhaps she had before this time communicated to you that she was with child? - Yes, she agreed with me to nurse her for the month; she told me the first time she came she was married and with child, and since she came to lodge with me she told me that she had an uncle in Bond-street and kept a public house, who had promised to send her three sacks of coals for her laying in and a sack of wood, and she told me that a relation had promised her all the baby linen, but she never brought none to my house; I saw her working at a bit of a shirt and a cap, I asked her whether she was doing her baby linen? she said, yes, my baby linen is at a relations, this is nothing but to amuse me.

Q. How long was it before she was brought to bed you see her at work about this shirt? - About a month or more I had seen such a thing in her hand; but she told me her baby linen was at a relations.

Q. From her coming to you she made no secret that she was with child? - She told me she was with child, and she told me she was married, and I was to take care of her during her laying in.

Q. That was agreed upon? - It was.

Q. What was to be done with nursing of the child? - She told me she would never suckle herself, nor no woman living should suckle her child; I was telling of her one day of bringing something for the baby's use; she used to say, don't you fear I shall have every thing that I want for my baby in time; says she, I shall not lay in till the latter end of February; she was going on in my debt, telling me she had a yearly income and the writings were in Mr. Montague's hands; she said, she had 15 l. a year; she told me the Wednesday morning after she was delivered that she was not married.


I am the niece of the former witness; I live in the same house with my aunt where Mary Lewis lodged; Thomas Lewis who the prisoner called her husband came in about half after two, on the 29th of January, and he wanted to speak with Molly, as he called her, my aunt answered him, she was up stairs ever since breakfast, my aunt told him to come in and sit down, and my aunt went up stairs and told her that Lewis wanted to speak to her; I could hear my aunt trying to go in, but the door was locked, and my aunt told her to open the door, and asked her what did she lock the door for? I heard her speaking these words, I cannot because I am cleaning myself; and my aunt came down and told Lewis that she was a cleaning herself, and would be down by and by; she was not very long in the room and I heard her come out of the door and shut the door after her, and called to Lewis, if you want to speak to me come up; she stood on the landing place; Lewis went up and spoke to her; he was there about five minutes; I don't know what they were saying, I did not hear that at all, but he returned down stairs and went out, and my aunt went out to fetch her milk home, and in the time that my aunt was out she came down stairs, and I was sitting with my face towards the window sewing, she came by me and sat down in the corner by the fire; I asked her what

she had been doing up stairs, and why she did not come down and keep me and my child company? I have been sewing, says she, very busy about it; that was the very words; and I said, your thimble is here; she told me she had another thimble in her pocket; I said, I thought you were ill or something; no, no, says she, I was not ill, when I am ill I will let you know fast enough; I was in the room down stairs by the fire; my aunt came home about half past five o'clock, and she drank tea with us about seven as usual; about nine o'clock at night we had a bed in the two pair of stairs not made, my aunt told me to go up and make the bed, so I did, as I was going up I saw a stain in the landing place where she stood to talk to Lewis; as I was coming down after I had made the bed I turned into this room, and the room was all over of the same.

Q. What kind of stain did it appear to be? - Blood; I went no farther I was so poorly; I went then down stairs and I told my aunt to go up the one pair of stairs room; what for? says my aunt to me, is the woman's coals coming? no, no, says I, go up stairs and see what is coming; and my aunt light a candle and went up stairs; I did not go with her; while my aunt was gone up the prisoner never spoke a word to me, nor I to her; my aunt returned down, there was nobody with her but herself; O God! what is this that is come to me in my house? says my aunt; and the prisoner made answer, what is the matter Mrs. Williams? and my aunt said, matter enough, what have you been doing up stairs? how can you ask me what is the matter? and she said to my aunt, I beg your pardon Mrs. Williams I could not help it, I have miscarried; my aunt answered her and said, miscarriage or not miscarriage, you should have let me known; she told my aunt to say nothing about it that night and she would take it away in the morning, and have it buried, and she would go to her uncle and be there; my aunt said, not a limb of it shall go out of my house in that manner; Mrs. Gibbs came down stairs at this time and asked my aunt what was the matter? I fell in a fit at seeing what I did up stairs, and my aunt told Mrs. Gibbs that that woman said that she had miscarried up stairs; Mrs. Gibbs says, let me go up and I will tell whether it is a miscarriage or no; my aunt and Mrs. Gibbs went up and the prisoner followed them, and I followed her up stairs; my aunt and Mrs. Gibbs went to the closet and I was at the closet door, and I saw the child laying there before they took it up, and Mrs. Gibbs took hold of the child and took it up, and my aunt said, what is that ribbon about the child's neck? I saw the knot on the left side, and Mrs. Gibbs undid the knot directly, for my aunt told her, and they carried the child down stairs and had it in a flannel by the fire; the child was so cold it was all in vain, and then they carried it up again and put it down in the closet where they found it, and came down stairs both of them, but my aunt put her to bed first, and we went down stairs and my aunt locked the room door after her, and my aunt went out for a doctor, but the doctor could not come that night; I looked at the child after the ribbon was taken off and the track of the ribbon was in the child's neck.


Q. We understand that you went up stairs this night to examine the room, who did you go up with? - With Mrs. Williams, and I saw as fine a child as ever I set my eyes upon in the cupboard with its head in an old shoe; I put my hand on its left shoulder and I thought then that I saw its right foot wag, that made me cry out to Mrs. Williams, bring me a flannel for I think it is alive now;

I observed a great deal in the cupboard; I took the child up, Mrs. Williams said, what is this ribbon about its neck Mrs. Gibbs? I laid hold of the ribbon at one end and off came the ribbon; I gave it a good hard pull; we carried the child down stairs in a flannel and we rubbed it by the fire; I could observe no life in it, but it was very black about the mouth, and looked to be a blow on the temple; I carried it up stairs again, and I put it where I took it from as I found it was dead; I said, I will take care of the ribbon and I gave it to the Coroner, and I received it of Latimer now; it is a silk ribbon.


I was one of the women sent from the work house to take care of the prisoner; I searched her pockets and I found two little shirts and two little caps; the prisoner has got them herself; I found them of my own accord.


I was the other woman sent to take care of the prisoner; I was present when Margaret Garrat searched the prisoner; I see her find the things she has mentioned in the pockets of the prisoner; I know them to be proper things for a young child.


I know the prisoner, about ten weeks ago the prisoner lived with Mr. Trevers as a chair woman; I was an assistant to Mr. Trevers as an apothecary; I asked her once what time she expected to lay in? she said, in eight weeks; I asked her if she was going to stay with us in the situation of a servant? she said, she could not as she had not above eight weeks before she expected to lay in; I enquired what she meant to do with her infant? it was one afternoon while we were at tea; she said, to put it out to nurse and to procure herself a situation as wet nurse; she was only there till we were supplied with a constant servant; she slept in the house while she was there; there was no concealment whatever.

- LINN sworn.

I am a surgeon; I live in Parliament-street. On the 30th or 31st of January I was desired by the Coroner to examine the body of the child, previous to the Coroner's sitting; I found an evident mark like a ligature about its neck, and a slight excoriation, as done by the ligature; I opened the body; I found the lungs had contained air, having been partially inflated; the blood vessels about the neck and heart were particularly turgid and full; I did not open the head, if the child had breathed it must have been a very short respiration; if it had breathed at all it must have been very short.

Q. Was it possible for the lungs to be inflated to such a degree without the child having some degree of breath? - I should think not.

Q. Had not the breath which it might take in the act of delivery be sufficient to inflate the lungs? - It might most assuredly.

Q. And yet the child die instantly? - It might. I went up to the prisoner and told her that I understood there was a ribbon found about the child's neck; I wished to know of her what was the reason for applying it; she said, she applied it to bring the body of the child from her; she found herself in great pain and that it stuck at the shoulders; she was pulling for about ten minutes before she could get it away from her; the child was remarkable large and it appeared to me that she could not have got it away without some such assistance. I am not a practitioner in midwifry, here is a gentleman here who can speak better to that point, he is the man midwife to the parish; but that is my opinion of the matter.

Q. Now, Sir, supposing this story to be true, suppose the child had been some time stuck by the way, by the shoulder, before she applied the string, might not that impediment suffocate the child? - In my opinion equally so.

Q. So that the child might be suffocated in the delivery before the application of the string? - I believe it frequently happens.

- GRAVES sworn.

I am a man midwife employed by the parish; I saw the child, and a very large child it was, prodigious large over the shoulders, and when the child sticks so it stops the circulation between the mother and the child, and destroys the child ninety-nine out of an hundred.

Q. Was it likely it would be the case with this? - I have no manner of doubt.


Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Baron THOMPSON .

View as XML