6th July 1840
Reference Numbert18400706-1850
VerdictGuilty > unknown

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1850. JOHANNA BLAND was indicted for feloniously killing and slaying Mary Bland.

MESSRS. BODKIN and ESPINASSE conducted the Prosecution.

WILLIAM SINNOCK (police-constable F 91.) I was in duty in Clare-street, Clare-market, about twelve o'clock, on the night of the 8th of June—my attention was called to a woman with a child in the street—in consequence of what passed between us I went to look for the prisoner—I found her in a gin-shop, drunk—I asked her if it was her child—she said yes, it was—I asked her to take the child—she said she did not know what to do with it—I did not understand her to mean that she was not in a fit state to take care of it—she did not take it—I took her to the station-house—the child was taken the same night, after the prisoner was locked up, to Mr. Snitch, the surgeon, as it appeared to be ill—Mr. Snitch said he could do nothing for it—I gave a woman 1d. to fetch some new milk to give it—the child took a little, as well as it could—it was then given in charge of the same woman who had it before—I have not been able to find that woman since—she has been kept away—the prisoner's brother threatened her the day after she was before the Magistrate—I saw the child on the Friday following, at Bow-street—I saw it dead at the inquest—it died on the 28th—it lived twenty days—it was in the workhouse all that time.

Prisoner. I gave the woman 1s. a week to take care of the child—my circumstances were very poor—I had an aged mother to support—I do not know what has become of the woman—she robbed me of every thing and left—did you come into the public-house, and see me there? Witness. I looked in at the door and saw you—I beckoned to a person in the gin-shop to tell you to come out.

ELIZABETH COPE . I am the wife of Henry Cope, and live in Clement's-lane, Strand. The prisoner lodged at the same house about a fortnight before Christmas last, and removed about six weeks before she was taken into custody—this child was born in that house on the 6th of March—it

was a girl, and was a fine, healthy baby—it was afterwards called Mary—the mother went out about nine days after it was born.

Q. From that time until she left Clement's-lane what was her treatment of this child? A. She used to go out about six or seven o'clock in the morning, and not return till eleven or twelve at night, or sometimes one or two o'clock in the morning, and she was generally in a state of intoxication when she came home—while she was out the child was left in care of a little girl of her own, about eight or nine years old—she had five children—she supported them by her own hand labour, except 5s. a week, which she was allowed by her husband—she worked as a tailoress, and earned 2s. a day, I believe—the baby was left without food while she was out—the other children were in the habit of being out a great deal, and the neighbours used to give them food, in a great measure; and when they were out the baby was left by itself—I have told the prisoner how it was neglected, and the other neighbours likewise have told her—she has frequently wished the child was dead, and I have heard her say she would give any person a pint of gin if they would burke it—she has said that when she was sober—she is a very violent woman—it was not said in temper, because we were complaining of her neglecting it—I have repeatedly suckled the child myself, fed it, and clothed it, because it was to neglected—it was left for days together in a state of nakedness, and in a filthy, dirty state—I saw the child after it was sent to the workhouse, and I have suckled it in the workhouse, by the request of the guardians—it was in a very weak, low state—it rallied a little, but very trifling—the only difference I saw was in the work of the eye—it appeared more bright, and to take more notice, from the care taken of it—it appeared a little more lively and cheerful for several days—it died on the 28th of June—it had arrow-root and mutton-broth while in the work-house, and three times a day it had the breast.

Prisoner. When my baby was born there was a mad dog in the room which had fits, and the baby had the same fits that the mad dog had—the child was convulsed from the time it was three days old—I left it in care of my little girl, who is thirteen years old—this woman fell out with me, and has been repeatedly vowing vengeance against me. Witness. I have not—I never saw the child in a fit till the day before it died—I never saw any mad dog in the room—her eldest girl is thirteen years old, it was not left in her care, but in care of the child between eight and nine.

MR. BODKIN. Q. Have you given your evidence in consequence of any quarrel with the prisoner? A. No—she quarrelled with me, but I cannot say I ever had any ill feeling against her, it was merely on account of the children—they were quarrelling with each other, and, I believe, I gave one a box on the ear.

MARY WHITE . I am the wife of Henry White, and live in Clement's-lane, Strand. I first saw the baby when it was about six weeks old, in its sister's arms—it appeared to be in good health, but in a very dirty state as to clothes—I have suckled, and washed, and fed the child myself, seeing it in the lane crying with hunger, and in. so dirty a state—it had no clothes, but rags tied round it—I never saw the prisoner but once to know her, and that was one Wednesday evening—she came to me, and asked if I was the person who took her baby and suckled it—I said yes, I had repeatedly, and she thanked me for it—she said she should like to have a person to take care of it, if she could get any one.

JAMES MACHUGH . I live at No. 3, Lincoln-court. The prisoner came

to live in the front garret of a house of mine, No. 19, Lincoln-court, about two months ago—she brought some children with her—sometime after she had been there I went into her room—I found the baby there, and another small child about two years old—I thought the infant was dead—it frightened me—it was lying on its mouth and nose—I was afraid to meddle with it, and ran down stairs and called the neighbours—eight or ten persons came up—a woman lifted it up, and gave it the breast—it seemed to be very weakly—it sucked the breast, and revived then—I saw the prisoner about eight o'clock that night—I went up to her and told her she must either quit that room or take the infant with her to where she worked, for I expected the child would be found dead there—I told her of the state in which it was found—she said she never suckled any of her children, she always reared them without—I told her I would go to Bow-street the next morning, and compel her to take the child with her or take it away—she said she did not care a d——for me or what I could do—I cannot say whether she was drunk at the time—she might have been drinking—next morning when I got up she was gone and all her children—she came again one night about three weeks after and wanted the room again—she said she had come from Gravesend—she bad a few things with her, and a girl, as I thought, to take care of her children—I would not let her have the room because I did not like her character.

Prisoner. You said you were willing to let me have the room, only the lodgers made a noise about the children, and you turned me out in the rain with my nurse and four children, and my dying baby in my arms Witness. She had a young woman with her, but she was too young for a nurse.

MICHAEL SULLIVAN . I live in Lincoln-court. I went into the prisoner's room there between eleven and twelve o'clock one Thursday night, six or seven weeks before the child died—I asked her if she was not ashamed to treat the children in the manner she did—she abused me, and called me a b——I spoke to her about the child—she said it might die and be d——she might have had a sup of drink, but was not intoxicated—she knew what she was saying—I was a stranger to her—she seemed provoked at my interference, and those words were said in the heat of passion—I did not see her do any thing to the child—it was in a very dirty state.

Prisoner. Q. Did you not bring a policeman with you? A. I did, F. 11, and he saw the state of the child.

ROBERT ATKINSON KIRBY . I am relieving-officer of the Strand Union. I saw the prisoner in March last, when the child was nearly a fortnight old—I proposed to her to take her and all her children into the workhouse—she said she would not come—during her confinement I supplied her from the parish funds, with blankets, and whatever was necessary—she never made any application for relief after that—I was aware that she was earning 2s. a day—I have known her ever since I have been relieving officer, and I knew how particularly she was placed—we do not take the children in without the mother—she has not lived with her husband lately, and this child and two others are by another man—when I visited her the child was lying on her arm as if she had been suckling it—her mother was with her at the time, and I offered to take her into the workhouse also.

Prisoner. Q. Did you ever hear of my neglecting my children? A. Yes—I went before this child was born, in consequence of some application

to me, and said I understood she was neglecting her children, and it was my duty to see them protected—she said it was no business of mine, she had a right to do what she liked with her children as long as she did not come to the parish for it.

JAMES IVORY . I am a broker, and live in Gilbert-street, Clare Market. I have seen the prisoner carrying the child with its head downwards and its feet upwards, and have heard her say she wished it was dead, and then she would have a good drunk—I have put the child in her arms myself and covered it over with a shawl—she was intoxicated at the time—I never saw her in any other way—she has passed my door thirty or forty tones with it.

Prisoner, He has sworn this against me because he had a child of mine, thirteen years old, in his bed, and he had seduced her. Witness. It is false, this is the first time I ever heard of it—the child has been sleeping on the stairs and in the dust-hole to get out of the way of her mother's violence—I keep four lodging houses for labouring men—two of the prisoner's brothers have threatened my life, and that of Mrs. Cope's, for coming here to give evidence.

MARY SPENCER . I am married, and live in Clements'-lane. The prisoner was lodging at our house—I told her if she neglected her child, I would have her taken up to Bow-street, but being very deaf, I could not hear what she said—I went to a public-house to tell her to come home, for the baby was screaming itself to death in the other girl's arms, who had a candle in one hand, and I expected every minute she would have set fire to its clothes—she flew at me violently, and pushed me out of the house.

JAMES SELWAY (police-sergeant F 11.) I was called by Sullivan to No. 19, Lincoln-court about the 21st of May—I went to the front attie, and saw the prisoner sitting on the ground with the child in her lap, four pieces of bread before her, a bundle of radishes, and some salt—there were three children on some shavings, partly naked—the child in her lap had a ragged dirty bed-gown on—it looked to me as if it was starving—I told her it would be better to apply to the parish to have relief than have them starving—she said she did not want any relief from the parish, she could earn half-a-crown a day, and that was enough to support her family—I told her I should make application to the Magistrate about it tomorrow—she said she did not care a pin about it, and was very abusive to two men and two women in the room—she tried to push one of the women out of the room.

Prisoner. Q. You saw me giving my children as much as I could afford. A. I saw you giving them nothing—the bread was on the ground—you did "not say, if they were dirty, they did not want for victuals—you had been drinking—it was just before twelve o'clock at night.

MERY MURPHY . I am the wife of Richard Murphy, and live at No. 19, Lincoln-court. I knew the deceased child—I have seen it at the door with one of the little girls, about four years old—it seemed very much in want, and was crying most awfully—I have taken it out of the girl's arms, and suckled it—I saw the prisoner one evening coming down the court, a lot of neighbours got found her, and told her she ought to be ashamed of herself for neglecting her baby—she said, she did not want me or any of the neighbours to take care of her baby, for she had left plenty of food for them at home—I went into the prisoner's room next morning, no one was there but the baby lying on the bed—I saw no food there—I suckled

it, brought it down stairs, and gave it to one of the children—it seemed to me to want nourishment, for it drew my breast stronger than my own child did, which is nine months old—children that are properly attended to, take the breast rather easily—I saw nothing in the prisoner's room but the bare walls, the bed it laid on, and an old plate.

JAMES PARISH . I paid the prisoner 5s. a week, on account of her husband, who is a journeyman tailor—I continued to do so till the 22nd of June—it was paid by order of the Lord Mayor, in consequence of an arrangement made before him—I do not know what the husband earns—I had paid her the week before she was taken into custody.

HENRY GREIG JONES . I am a surgeon and one of the medical officers of the Strand Union—I saw the child on the 10th of June, in the work-house—it was in an extremely emaciated state, and in a state of perfect exhaustion—I attended it till it died, which was on Sunday morning the 28th—my opinion is that it was in that state from want of food—it rallied slightly, under the treatment, and afterwards sank—I gave very strict directions that it should not be overfed, and I have very great confidence in the person that administered the food—it would have been dangerous to overfeed it—it was fed cautiously with a little milk and arrow-root in small quantities—I did not see every spoonful administered, but I have no doubt my instructions were attended to—I made a post mortem examination—I found the internal structure of the child perfectly healthy—I should refer its death to want of proper nourishment and care, previous to the time I saw it—I opened the head, there was no appearance of disease there—the child was a little convulsed on the Friday and Saturday previous to its death, not before—in cases of death from exhaustion they frequently have slight convulsions—children are very subject to it.

COURT. Q. Can you undertake to say that it died from starvation, and not from any injudicious supply of food after it got into the workhouse? A. I have every reason to believe so—I have no reason to doubt it—over-feeding will frequently cause sudden death, but then there would be some inflammatory appearance about the intestines.

CHARLES JAMES SNITCH .—I am a surgeon, and live in Brydges-street, Covent-garden. The child was brought to me by Sinnock and a woman on the morning of the 9th of June, from a quarter to half-past twelve o'clock—it was in a state of extreme debility and exhaustion, so much so, that I told the man I could do it no good, he had better take it away and give it nourishment, for I thought in all probability it would not be long before it died—I could not form any judgment from what that debility proceeded, because I made no inquiry into the circumstances—the face was very little larger than a China orange, and very much shrivelled up—it was quite an old emaciated countenance—I assisted Mr. Jones in part of the post mortem examination—I have heard his evidence, and fully concur in the opinion he has expressed as to the cause of the child's death.

COURT. Q. You think an interval of twenty days having occurred does not prevent your speaking with confidence on the cause of death? A. It does not, for it appears to me the child never rallied from the first—the food it afterwards received did not nourish it—it had not functions to receive it.

MARY COPE re-examined. I had the care of the child after it was taken from the house—I suckled it—it had a nurse besides—I have seen it fed with arrow-root—in my judgment it was discreetly managed, so as not to

receive more food than it ought to receive with advantage—it appeared to me properly treated—the greatest care was taken of it.

Prisoner's Defence, No one can ever say I neglected my children; I was willing to work for them as far as laid in my power; I hate not lived with my husband for seven years; he gave me 5s. a week to keep four of them; two have since died—I have one eleven years old, one eight, and one thirteen; and have had to keep them through a long dreary winter, and having a heavy fit of illness myself; this child was very weakly and bad when it was first born; I had to work in Marlborough-street, and it was too far for me to come home to it—I do not mean to say the children might not have neglected the baby while I was out, but I never wronged them; I was labouring for them; I never troubled any charity or anything in the parish; I have an aged mother eighty-two years old to keep also; I was often out from five o'clock in the morning till twelve at night if my employer was busy; I could not come home at my own time, but I was obliged to wait my employer's time; all the witnesses are combined against me, and I am alone without a friend or a shilling to assist me; Mr. Ivory keeps houses of ill fame, and has sworn a spite against me because I went out to look after my child, who he had seduced from her home—my children have been my only comfort since my husband went to live with my brother's wife. I have kepi myself destitute for my children's sake; I often went to public-houses to get jobs from one and another; I gave the woman 1s. a week and her victuals to mind my baby, and I was very happy to think I could go to my work and leave my baby safe; that night I went to get some work, and they took the baby from me.

ROBERT ATKINSON KIRBY re-examined. We have two of her other Children under our care—they are in good health—the other two are under the care of the father—on the 8th of June they were in a very poor, emaciated state—they had very little among them all—there was enough to support life and tolerable health—the one thirteen years old was occasionally at home—I saw the prisoner's mother, I think, yesterday or the day before, and offered to take her into the workhouse, as she was in a very filthy state, but she refused—she was in at one time, but the prisoner had her out again—she has an allowance from the Roman Catholic chapel in Lincoln's Inn-fields.

GUILTY . Aged 39.— Confined On Year.

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