Unknown, infant

Unknown infant        1869 June 26th         New Swindon

On Friday morning last considerable consternation was produced at New Swindon, by the report that the body of a newly-born child had been discovered on an ash-heap, under such circumstances as to lead to the supposition that it had been murdered.

It appears from inquiries made that, shortly after twelve o’clock on Friday morning, Mrs Drysdale, the wife of a mechanic in the employ of the Great Western Railway Company, living in Havelock-street, went to the ash-pit at the back of her house for the purpose of throwing ashes there, when she was horrified by finding the perfectly nude body of an infant lying on the ashes.

Mrs Drysdale herself being near her confinement, the shock this terrible discovery gave may be better imagined than described, and her cries soon brought many to the spot. The body of the child having been covered with some matting, the police were at once communicated with, and PS Stevens was soon on the spot. On examining the body, PS Stevens found a man’s neck-tie twisted tightly three times round the neck, the two ends being tied together. Whether this tie had been put round the neck for the purpose of producing strangulation, to prevent the child crying, or that the person carrying the child might have something to hold by, does not appear, but the fact that it was tied round the neck at once gave rise to the report that it had been used for the purposes of strangulation.

The body having been removed the Golden Lion Inn, was examined by Dr A L Griffith, and Mr Deliefde, one of Dr Swinhoe’s assistants. It is almost needless to say that the discovery of the body at once gave rise to all sorts of rumours, and the paternity of the child was attempted to be fixed on several persons. Amongst others the name of a Mrs E Woolhams, a young widow, was somewhat freely mentioned. It is however, but justice to this person to say that her father, Mr Smith, on hearing this rumour, at once had his daughter examined by Dr Dawson, who has certified to the effect that Mrs Woolhams has not recently been delivered of a child. The police have the matter in hand and are prosecuting active enquiries, and no doubt will leave no effort untried to discover the guilty parties and bring them to justice.

On Saturday morning an inquest was held on the body at the Golden Lion Inn, before W B Whitmarsh, Esq., when the jury returned as their verdict, “That the child was found dead on an ash-pit, but whether the death was from natural causes or not, there was no evidence to show.

Alas, I have no follow up report for this case. From the verdict, there does not appear to be conclusive evidence that the child was killed – Ed.


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