Coombs, Harriet

Coombs, Harriet        1874 December 19th

Alleged Baby-Farming in Salisbury

An inquest exemplary of the injurious scandal so often set afloat by neighbours’ gossip was held last week end before Dr Young, the city coroner, at the Globe Inn, Gigant-street, in this city.

The deceased was a child aged two years, named Harriet Eva Coombs, who had been put out to nurse by its mother with a Mrs Lywood, of Love-lane, who received 2s 6d a week for her charge. Some of Mrs Lywood’s neighbours set about an allegation against her that she had starved and beaten the child, and so accelerated its death, two of them asserting in support of their accusation that they had seen her beating it.

According to the evidence of Dr Gordon and of its mother, the child had always been of a sickly condition, and the former said the death was directly due to chronic bronchitis, whilst there was not in its appearance the least indication either of starvation or of any other ill-usage.

Mrs Lywood said it was true that now and then she had tapped the child with her hand in a way that could have hurt it but lightly, as it was common to chide an infant, and that she had always provided it with plenty of food which from its weakly nature it could not eat.

The Coroner said he quite agreed with Dr Gordon as to the cause of death, and a verdict was given in accordance with the medical testimony.

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