Baby Farming at Gosforth
At the Whitehaven Police-court, on Monday, before C FISHER, Esq., (chairman), and a bench of magistrates, Sarah Jane LEES, a single woman, as brought up in custody, charged with cruelty to her infant. - Dr PARKER, Gosforth, said that yesterday morning he went by request to see the prisoner's child, which was at Sarah MIDDLETON's, at Wellington, Gosforth. He found it in an emaciated state, and very weak. Its hands and feet, especially its feet, were of a livid purple colour, its eyes were inflamed, and its skin had broken out in several places. It was in a very bad condition, and had been very much neglected; and it was not likely to recover. He (witness) attributed the symptoms to the want of proper food and proper care, and to exposure to cold. It was properly clothed, when he saw it. - In answer to further questions, Dr Parker said the child was 17 months old. He did not know what weight it was; but he believed the constable had weighed it this morning, and found it to be !
9lbs weight. A properly nourished child of that age ought not to be under 20lbs. - Mary CARROLL said she lived at Wellington, Gosforth, and the prisoner and her child had been staying with her for a month. The child was about 16 or 17 months old. Prisoner paid her 2s a week for lodging, and kept herself. She (prisoner) worked in Messrs GAITSKILL's gardens when the weather was fine. - In answer to the Bench, Superintendent BIRD said the prisoner had endeavoured to father the child, but no allowance was made. - Witness, resuming, said the prisoner went out at 6 o'clock in the morning, and came back between six and seven in the evening. In her absence the child was attended to by her (witness's) two little girls, who were nine and eleven years of age respectively. It was fed on bread and milk, cooked. Sometimes prisoner, who only earned a shilling a day, was unable to find the child food; but if she had none of her own, witness always allowed her to take some of hers, and there!
was always plenty in the house. At nights the child sometimes could not sleep, and prisoner was cross with it; she (witness) never saw her strike it, but she had heard her whip it with her hand, but not very severely. The child always seemed able to take its food. Witness always told the prisoner she had not enough money to keep the child, and told her she ought to take it to the doctor or to the poorhouse; but the girl said she would'nt (sic) go to the poorhouse. Witness believed prisoner did the best she could with the money she made. She (witness) never thought that the prisoner was not right in her mind. - Dr Parker here said he had had a message that morning that the child was not likely to live an hour. - Supt Bird applied for a remand for a week, that he might make further inquiries. He thought he should be able to show that there was gross neglect on the part of the prisoner. - In answer to further questions by the Bench, Carroll said she, too, had to go out to wash!
every day when she could, and the house was left in charge of the girls. - Supt Bird suggested that the Bench hear the evidence of the constable. - PC BLENKINSOP stated that he had made inquiries into the case. There were three children in Carroll's house, besides the two girls of nine and eleven years of age that had been mentioned. Carroll had an infant of her own eight months old, the prisoner's child, and another child seven months old which she (Carroll) had taken in to nurse. These infants were left all day in the care of Carroll's child, nine years of age; and the neighbours had complained to him of the way in which they were neglected. On one occasion one of the neighbours had to break into the house by the skylight to give them food. - Mr Brockbank said Carroll had said the children she had named, viz., the prisoner' s child and her own two girls of nine and eleven, were all that were in the house. - On being re-called, Carroll said she was only speaking of her own!
family; but what the constable had said was correct. - The Bench decided to remand the case for a week, as applied for by Superintendent Bird. - Prisoner maintained a stolid, indifferent look during the hearing of the case, as if she did not understand the nature of the proceedings, and asked no questions of the various witnesses. When asked if she had anything to say why she should not be remanded, she attempted to speak, but broke down and cried. - She was removed in custody.