Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 17 January 2021), January 1896, trial of EDITH FENN (16) (t18960113-141).

EDITH FENN, Breaking Peace > wounding, 13th January 1896.

141. EDITH FENN (16) , Unlawfully administering a certain poison to Gwendolin Sutherland Morris with intent to injure and annoy her.

MR. JOSEPHS Prosecuted.

LOUISE CRESWICK MORRIS . I am the wife of Gordon Sutherland Morris, an Army officer, and live at 21, Courtfield Gardens, South Kensington—the prisoner had been in our service for about six weeks as kitchenmaid—my daughter, Gwendolin Sutherland Morris, is 31/2 years old—about 1.45 p.m. on December 2nd, I was sent for to the kitchen—the prisoner was there and another servant—Emma Longhurst, the cook, showed me, in the prisoner's presence, some mince—it smelt of ammonia—it was the prisoner's duty to take the child's food upstairs—the cook showed me her saucepans and cooking utensils; I noticed no smell about them—I asked the prisoner what she had done to the mince—she said, "Nothing"—I ran upstairs to see if a bottle of ammonia was in the bath-room; it was not—as I came out of the bath-room I met my nurse coming down with the baby's milk in a can—she asked me to taste it, I did so; it was very nasty, and I carried it down—I saw the prisoner in the kitchen, and asked her what she had put into the milk, and she said, "Nothing"—I implored her to come with me to the housekeeper's room; because all the servants were talking at once in the kitchen—she came with me—I said, "Do tell me what you put into the baby's milk"—she seemed to be frightened—I said, "Be quick," or something, and put my arm round her and implored her to tell me, because if the child died how responsible she would be; and then she said she did not know—I said, "Show me the bottle," and she said, "It is in the dustbin"—I said, "Come with me quickly to the dustbin and find it"—we went, to the dustbin, into which she went and took out a bottle with a label, "Poison," and an over-label, "Solution for cleaning gold lace"—it was a bottle I

had ordered to be made up for cleaning the gold embroidery on a fancy dress—a doctor was sent for—I rushed upstairs, and don't know what I did—the doctor gave the baby and me something; ether, I think—the police were communicated with.

EMMA LONGHURST . I am cook to Mrs. Morris—on 2nd December I cooked some mince for the baby's dinner, and gave it in a proper condition to the prisoner to take upstairs, about 1.45—it was brought back a little later by the housemaid, and then it smelt strongly of ammonia—I asked the prisoner what had happened to it—she said, "Nothing."

FLORENCE POWELL . I am nurse to the baby, Gwendolin Morris—on 2nd December I returned from a walk with her—I gave her some milk to drink, which I got out of a little room adjoining the nursery, where we always keep it—it was the prisoner's duty to take the milk upstairs—the baby tasted a little drop and said it was nasty, and spat it out—I tasted a little drop, and found it was nasty—I met the prisoner on the landing, and showed it to her and said, "I think the milk has gone sour"—she said, "Yes, it looks it; shall I take it downstairs and throw it away?—I said, "No, I will keep it, and show it to Mrs. Morris when she comes up"—she made no answer, but went off—a little while after the prisoner brought up the baby's dinner of mince and potatoes; it smelt strongly of ammonia—she put it on the table and went out of the room—I took it out to the housemaid who was on the landing, and she took it downstairs—I afterwards spoke to Mrs. Morris.

ELIZABETH KATE SMART . I am housemaid at 21, Courtfield Gardens—on December 2nd I was standing on the landing when the prisoner passed me with the baby's mince—it smelt strongly of ammonia—I asked her what it was—she said, "Perhaps it is in the milk"—there was some milk on a slab on the landing—the prisoner took the mince into the nursery and then brought the milk to me to smell—it did not smell at all—the prisoner went downstairs—I went into an adjoining room and was there two or three minutes when the nurse brought me the dinner to smell; it smelt of ammonia—she asked me to take it downstairs, and I took it down into the kitchen, and then fetched Mrs. Morris.

PHILIP PERCIVAL WYCKHAM . I am a registered medical practitioner—about 2.45 on December 2nd, I was called to 21, Courtfield Gardens, where Mrs. Morris showed me this bottle labelled "Poison"—the contents smelt of prussic acid—the bottle bears the seal I put on it in the policeman's presence—she also showed me a can of milk which smelt of prussic acid—I gave the child an antidote of ether—about a tea-spoonful of liquid was left in the bottle—I was shown a plate of minced meat which smelt very strongly of ammonia—I subsequently analysed the contents of the bottle, and found by three different tests evidence of prussic acid—I analysed the milk and found evidence of prussic acid in it—prussic acid is a poison—the contents of the bottle were a strong solution of potassic cyanide, which is used principally in photography; I was told that in this instance it was used for cleaning gold lace—there was no ammonia in the milk.

EDITH MARY JACKSON . I am a hospital nurse—before December 2nd I had been nursing Mr. Morris's mother, who was then dead—I was called down by Mrs. Morris—I saw the prisoner produce this bottle labelled "Poison" from the dustbin; she gave it to me—I noticed

written on it "A lotion for gold lace," and the label at the top—I asked the prisoner why she had done it—she said she did not like to take the baby's food upstairs—I asked her what she had done with the ammonia bottle; she said she had put it down the w.c.

WILLIAM HOWELL (156 F). About 2.45 on December 2nd I was called to 21, Courtfield Gardens—Mrs. Morris made a statement to me and gave me this blue bottle, a plate of mince which smelt strongly of ammonia, and a can containing milk—I handed those to Dr. Wyckham—I arrested the prisoner and told her that on the charge made by Mrs. Morris I should arrest her and take her to the station, where she would be charged with putting a kind of poison from this bottle into the food—she said, "I don't want my mother to know"—I handed the bottle to the doctor, who sealed it up in my presence—she made no reply when charged at the station.

GUILTY.—The JURY strongly recommended her to mercy on account of her youth. Two witnesses deposed to her previous good character.— Four Months' Hard Labour.