Goodfellow, infant

Goodfellow, infant             1876 July 15th

During the last three or four days great excitement had presided in the city in consequence of the report that a woman named Ann Goodfellow, the widow of a man who used to be employed as ostler at the “Rose and Crown,” Harnham, has murdered her child, a few days old, and boiled it in a saucepan.

On Tuesday evening, in consequence of an anonymous communication received at the Police Station, the superintendent (Mr Mathews) and Inspector Ainsworth went to the prisoner’s house in Endless-street, with Dr Gordon, and in consequence of what they there saw the prisoner was taken into custody.

On Wednesday morning she was brought up before the Mayor (Mr C H Radcliffe) charged that she, on the 9th of July, 1876, in the parish of St Edmund, in this city, did “feloniously and maliciously, her malice being aforethought, kill and murder a child then recently born of her body, and unnamed, against the peace of our sovereign lady the Queen.” A large number of persons assembled outside the court to see the prisoner, and a great many were also present to hear the case. The charge having been read over to the prisoner,

Mr Supt Mathews was sworn and said : At 9 o’clock last evening, the 11th inst., in company with Inspector Ainsworth and Dr Gordon, I went to 13, Spring Place, Endless St., in this city, occupied by the prisoner. In the front room downstairs I saw a saucepan on the hob by the side of the fire, and on examining the contents I found the dead body of a child tied up in a cloth. There was water in the saucepan. It was quite hot, and had been boiling. The doctor removed the cloth and its contents from the saucepan, and I had them conveyed to the Police Station by Inspector Ainsworth. The prisoner was subsequently charged by me at the Station with wilfully murdering a newly born infant. She was not present when we took the cloth with its contents out of the saucepan.

Mr Mathews said this was as far as he could proceed with the case, and made an application for the prisoner to be remanded until Monday, but it was decided to remand her till today.


The inquest was held at the Council Chamber before Mr G smith, City Coroner, on Monday afternoon, and the following gentlemen were sworn on the jury : Mr George Vincent (foreman), and Messrs William Herbert Adey, Thomas Edwards, William Henry Keene, John Walker, Charles Clements, Samuel Parker, George Bowering, Charles Ling, John Mist, Charles John Witcomb and Levi Kinsman.

The Coroner, in addressing them, said they were assembled to inquire into the cause of death of a newly born male child whose name was at present unknown. He thought the inquiry would resolve itself into a very serious one, and the evidence would probably point to some foul play on the part of someone, which caused the death of the child. Two medical men would be produced before them, and would give them their opinion on the matter. He thought the evidence they would give would direct them to the conclusion that some foul play had been made use of in this instance, but of course in arriving at that conclusion it would be necessary to prove that there was malice aforethought, yet he thought in all events they would be in a position to imply from the evidence that there was. He didn’t think he need to refer to anything else before the evidence was taken, but after the body had been viewed and the evidence taken it would be his duty to sum up the evidence and make a few observations.

The jury then proceeded to the Police Station to view the body, and after returning,

Inspector Ainsworth was called, and said : I reside at St Thomas’s Row, Milford Hill. Last evening I was directed by my superintendent to 13, Spring Place, Endless Street, about 20 minutes to 9 o’clock. On arriving there I looked for the woman who lived in the house, but nobody was in the house when I got there. I called at a neighbour’s house two doors from that, and asked to see Mrs Goodfellow, who resided at No 13. Mrs Goodfellow herself then came down the stairs with a child in her arms. It was a child she was taking care of for a neighbour. I told her I wanted to speak to her if she would come to her own house, and she went with me into her house at once. When I got there I asked her if she had a dead body in the house. She hesitated a few seconds, and then said, “No, I have not.” I told her from information I had received I believed there was a dead body in the house, and she then said she had had one in the house, but had removed it. She then said, “Well, I have had a little bit of one. It was only a tiny bit, and I didn’t know what to do with it, and it’s in the saucepan —-” (pointing to the saucepan on the fire).

I asked for a light and then went to the saucepan. She lifted off the plate which was on it, and I saw what appeared —– to be a child. It was tied up tightly in a cloth. I believe I saw a portion of the side of the head protruding through the cloth. The saucepan was about half full of water, and it appeared to have been boiling a long time. She lifted it off the fire and placed it on the hob. It was then boiling. I looked —- the house, leaving the body of the child in the saucepan there. I took the woman to the Station and then returned with Supt Mathews and Dr Gordon. After I returned I took possession of the body. I have heard the woman’s christian name, but I forgot it. Dr Gordon took the body out of the saucepan, and I assisted in carrying it from the house to the Police Station.

Alfred Mathews was then sworn and said : I am superintendent of the Salisbury Police and reside at Salisbury. From information I received I sent my Inspector to No 13, Spring Place, Endless Street, on the evening of the 11th inst. About 9 o’clock the Inspector returned to the Station with Ann Goodfellow in his custody. He then stated in the presence of the prisoner, Ann Goodfellow, that he had found the body of a child in a saucepan boiling on the fire at No 13, Spring Place.

I left the prisoner in charge of a constable at the Police Station, and sent the Inspector for Dr Gordon. I then went with Dr Gordon and the Inspector to 13, Spring Place, and in a room on the ground floor I saw a saucepan in the hob of the grate. We examined the contents, and on removing the bundle from the saucepan we found it contained the body of a child. One arm and hand dropped off on removing it from the saucepan. We then took possession of the body, and removed it to the Police Station, and that body is the same which the jury has just viewed.

Inspector Ainsworth was recalled, and in reply to the Coroner stated he had no doubt that the body Mr Mathews took possession of was the same one he left there, for it was in the saucepan just as he left it.

Mary Ann Brignall was sworn, and said : I am the wife of Frederick Brignall, and we reside on the Devizes Road, Salisbury. I know a person named Ann Goodfellow, who is a widow. I think her husband died about six months ago. On Monday, about half past 12 in the afternoon, I went to Spring Place, Endless Street, where Mrs Goodfellow lives, so see Ann Goodfellow, who I have known for years. I was accompanied by Mrs Blake. I didn’t stay long with her, and didn’t sit down in the house at all. We remained about five minutes, and as we were leaving Ann Goodfellow walked out behind me, and I said, “Well Ann, how are you getting on?” She said to me, “It’s all over,” and I said, “Where is it?” and she replied, “It’s upstairs.” She then said, “It’s a nice fat boy, and I will give anyone a shilling to go and bury it.”

The Coroner : Did she use those very words? Those very words.

What happened then? There was nothing more said.

Was nothing said previous to your going out of the house? No, sir.

The Coroner asked what she meant by “it,” when she said, “where is it?” and Mrs Brignall stated that she was aware that Mrs Goodfellow was in the family way. As she was following her out of the yard she told her the child breathed once.

The Coroner : What were her words? “The child breathed once.”

Mr Clements : When she said she would give a person a shilling to bury it did she tell you that it was dead? Yes, sir.

The Coroner : When she told you the child was dead did you make any further remark? No.

Examination continued : I then went to see my mother in Endless Street, and left Mrs Blake with Mrs Goodfellow, and after visiting my mother I went straight home. I mentioned the circumstances to my husband, and he communicated with the police.

James Henry Gordon was the next witness, and upon being sworn, said : I am a doctor of medicine, and practise in Salisbury. Shortly after nine o’clock last evening I was requested by the superintendent of police to accompany him to 13, Spring Place, Endless Street, which I did. When I arrived he showed me a large saucepan which contained a bundle, and that bundle contained a child. It was tied very carefully, and I undid the cloth in which it was tied, having previously placed it on a dish. I examined the child, and found that one of the arms, the shoulder, and part of the chest had dropped off. The whole body was ready to fall to pieces if touched, through boiling. I didn’t make any further examination at that time. I then had the body conveyed to the Police Station. I have to-day, in conjunction with Dr Roberts, made a more careful examination of the body. The body was that of a fully developed male child. It was very much disturbed by the action of the boiling water, and blistered all over with small blisters. The legs were folded up, and the skull had collapsed, not in consequence of a blow, but from being boiled out.

The Coroner : Can you form any opinion as to the age of the child? It had gone to its full time.

Can you give any opinion as to whether it had separate existence? There was no evidence to show that it hadn’t a separate existence, and my opinion is that it had. At the same time the action of the boiling water had so far removed the usual conclusive proofs that I could not swear to that.

Examination continued : The internal organs were thoroughly healthy and fully developed. The umbilical cord had not been tied, but had apparently been broken off about 10 inches. The stomach was completely empty.

The Coroner : Can you form any opinion as to whether the child was put into the water dead or alive? My opinion is that the child was dead when put into the water. It didn’t appear as if it had lived very long, if it was born alive.

Examination continued : I have examined the mother of the child as well, and found she had been delivered of a child.

A juryman : Does dead flesh blister if put into water like that? If dead only a short time it might, but if dead some time it would not.

The Coroner : Assuming that the body was born on Sunday, and had been lying dead ever since would it, if put into boiling water, have blistered in the way you found it? There is a diversity of opinion as to that, but I think the balance of opinion is that the action of boiling water would not cause blisters if the child had been dead some time previous to immersion. My opinion is that it would not.


A juryman : Have you any idea what would produce these blisters other then boiling water? Nothing but intense heat in this case would produce such blisters.

Carr Holstock Roberts, upon being sworn, said : I am a physician in Salisbury in general practise, and reside in Bedwin Street. I assisted Dr Gordon in making a post mortem examination of the body of the child at the Police Station. I have heard what Gordon has stated, and I quite agree with him in every respect except as regards the blistering. I am more inclined to think that after death the child would not have been blistered from the action of the boiling water. I am inclined to the opinion that the child was alive before it was subjected to the action of boiling water. In all other respects I agree with Dr Gordon.

A juryman : Would you be of opinion if put in boiling water immediately after death blistering would take place? I think it might if put in immediately, but not if kept from Sunday.

Mr Clements : Don’t you think boiling water would have the same effect upon human dead flesh as upon animal dead flesh? That is my opinion.

The Coroner : Are you able to state to the jury when or about when Ann Goodfellow was delivered? Judging from the examination I made she was delivered on Sunday, but it impossible to say that.

The Coroner thought they now had the whole of the evidence as far as he could ascertain at present, with the exception of that of Mrs Blake, who was not to be found.

Mr Clements (to the Coroner) : Before you proceed further, has there been any endeavour to find out if anyone assisted at the accouchement?

The Coroner : I am not aware there was anyone present.

Mr Mathews : We are in possession of certain facts, but can’t make use of them, but the woman’s statement is she delivered herself.

With respect to Mrs Blake, Mr Mathews said she could not corroborate Mrs Brignall’s statement, but the Coroner pointed out that it was very probable she had some conversation with Mrs Goodfellow after Mrs Brignall left.

Mr Clements couldn’t see what they could gain. The child had been found. She was delivered of the child, and was impatient to have it buried.

The Coroner : The question seems to be whether this inquiry should be adjourned for the presence of Mrs Blake, or whether you are satisfied.

A juryman : I should think Mrs Blake ought to be here. She was the last person with her.

Other jurymen thought the same, and Mrs Blake was sent for.

Dr Roberts wished to state that in making the post mortem examination, they observed a considerable amount of coagulated blood that had exuded from the mouth, ears, and nose, which he thought would not have been the case had the child immersed in boiling water even immediately after death. He attended the husband of Ann Goodfellow whilst dying on three or four occasions, in the absence of Dr Gordon.

The Coroner : What was our opinion as to his competency of being the father of the child? I should say in this case it was a matter of impossibility for him to have been the father of the child.

The Coroner wished to know if there was another child, and Dr Roberts replied that there was one, five years old. He drew his conclusion that Ann Goodfellow’s husband was not the father of the child, because when he saw him twelve months ago he was quite incompetent.

The Coroner : My reason for asking that was to allow a motive for getting rid of the illegitimate child.

A juryman : How long do you think that body was in the water? It appeared to have been there for some hours. The flesh was completely separated from the bones; in fact, what one might say completely over done. I don’t know how long a baby of that age would take in cooking, but it must have been there some hours.

Dr Gordon said he had attended the husband of Ann Goodfellow for a considerable time previous to his death, which took place on the 15th of January, and he concurred with Dr Roberts as to his incompetency.

Mrs Brignall was recalled, and in reply to the Coroner, stated that Mrs Goodfellow said to her, “Be sure don’t mention it to Mrs Blake.”

The Coroner : Did you mention it to Mrs Blake? I told Mrs Blake going home.

You stated just now you left her in the house? When I came from my mother’s I met Mrs Blake opposite Miss Toevey’s School in Endless Street.

The Coroner : And did you walk home together? We then walked home to my house. We live together.

When you mentioned this to Mrs Blake, what did she say; did she express surprise? Yes, sir, she did. She said, “I don’t know a word about it; she never named it to me, I am surprised at Mrs Goodfellow.”

What was she surprised at? She didn’t know there was anything the matter.

Do you know when Ann Goodfellow was confined? On the Friday she told me.

Did she tell you that on Monday? On Monday.

Mr Ling : Did you suspect she had killed the child? Yes, sir, because she told me not to say anything about it.

The Coroner : What were your suspicions that induced you to tell the police? I thought she had done something which ought not to be, and my husband thought it his duty to tell the police.

Why did you think that? Because she was continually telling me not to say a word about it.

Did you ask to see the child? No, sir.

In reply to another question, witness stated that Mrs Blake went to see Mrs Goodfellow about a dress.

The Coroner : When did she state to you on several occasions she wished you not to say anything about it? On Monday.

Did she say anything about it to you on any other occasions? No, sir; till Monday I had not seen her since the day before Salisbury Races.

The Coroner : Just recollect yourself. You are on your oath now, and therefore I require you to give a correct answer. Was Mrs Goodfellow at your house on Saturday, and did you see her? She came up the path, and my husband was there. She said, “Is Mrs Blake here?” and turned round and walked away. That was yesterday.

Did she offer you anything yesterday? No, sir.

Did she offer you a shilling yesterday? No, sir.

Is there a Mrs Bing living in your neighbourhood? No, sir, I don’t know the name.

You positively say you did not see Mrs Goodfellow yesterday? No, sir. She only came on the pathway and asked if Mrs Blake was there.

The person despatched to find Mrs Blake returned without success, and the question again arose as to whether it was necessary to have her evidence. The majority of the jury thought it was, and the inquiry was then adjourned until the following morning.

On Thursday morning Mrs Blake put in an appearance, and upon being sworn, said : I am wife of George Blake, a carpenter, and at present reside in the same house as Mrs Brignall on the Devizes Road. I am acquainted with a person named Ann Goodfellow. I accompanied Mrs Brignall to see Mrs Goodfellow last Monday. I remained at Ann Goodfellow’s house about five minutes with Mrs Brignall. Mrs Brignall then left, leaving me there. Ann Goodfellow went down the yard with Mrs Brignall, and returned to me in the house. Nothing transpired between me and Ann Goodfellow after she returned.

I remained there about half-an-hour, and dined with her. Nothing was said to me about the birth of a child nor the death of a child. After leaving Mrs Goodfellow’s house I went down Endless Street. I there met Mrs Brignall again, and went straight home with her. On my way home Mrs Brignall told me Mrs Goodfellow told her she had a baby, a “nice fat little boy.” She stated also that she had been confined on Friday last at two o’clock, that the child was dead upstairs, and that she would give anyone a shilling to bury it. I don’t know anything more than that transpired.

Mr Clements : Were you staying at Mrs Brignall’s last night? Yes, sir.

Had you and Mrs Brignall had any conversation with regard to the evidence she gave here yesterday? No, sir.

Didn’t talk about it at all? No, sir.

The Coroner : Did you know anything at all about Mrs Goodfellow having a child before Mrs Brignall mentioned it to you? No, sir.

No other witnesses were called, and the Coroner said he thought the best plan would be to read the evidence over, and make any observations which might occur to him in passing. Having read the evidence of the three first witnesses he said they came to the evidence of the medical men, which was most important for the jury to consider. It seemed to him they both concurred that the child was born alive, but they did not agree as to the action of boiling water on a child previously dead. Dr Roberts was stronger in his evidence than Dr Gordon. He stated that he was inclined to the opinion that the child whose body he examined was subjected to the action of boiling water whilst alive.

The only other witness was Ellen Blake, whom they had heard that morning, and she so far corroborated the evidence of Mrs Brignall as to the conversation which they had together. That was the whole of the evidence, and it certainly pointed to the conclusion that foul play was administered to the child. It was for them to say whether the child received foul play, and if the evidence pointed to the conclusion that Ann Goodfellow was the person who caused the death of the child it would be their duty to return a verdict of “wilful murder,” and she would be committed to take her trial at the next Assizes.

The first question for them to consider was “Had this child a separate existence from its mother?” If it hadn’t murder could not have been committed, but if it had a separate existence what caused its death? If, as he said before, they found a verdict of “wilful murder,” and were of opinion that the evidence pointed to the conclusion that Ann Goodfellow was the cause of that murder, he should feel it his duty to commit her for trial at the next Assizes. He thought these were all the remarks he wished to make, and could only call their attention to the very serious nature of the case they were met to consider, but he was quite sure they would be guided in their decision according to their consciences and the oath which they had taken to administer justice.

The jury then retired to consider their verdict, and in about 20 minutes returned into Court with a verdict of “Wilful murder.”

The Coroner : Do you say that Ann Goodfellow was the person who murdered the deceased?

The foreman of the jury : Yes.

The witnesses were then bound over in the sum of £40 each to appear and give evidence at the next Wilts Assizes.

The Coroner, addressing Mrs Brignall, said the jury requested him to tell her they were not satisfied at the manner in which she gave her evidence, being of opinion that she tried to prevaricate.

Mr Brignall was also called, and the Coroner said he would make a remark to him. So far he acted perfectly correct in acquainting the police of this matter, but of the way in which it was done he could not speak very highly. Instead of going to the Police Station he posted a letter, which, he was informed, caused a considerable delay – a delay of a whole day. If he had gone at once, as it was his duty to have done, to the Police Station, and informed them of the matter, probably the child would have escaped being immersed in boiling water.

Mr Brignall said he acted as he did because he didn’t want to be in the matter, but the Coroner said he owed the public a duty, and therefore he ought to have done it in the proper way. He had only mentioned it at the request of the jury.

Magistrates Hearing 1876 July 22nd

A short report is given stating that the evidence of the inquest was almost entirely reprised at this hearing, with the small addition of the prisoner at the end giving response to Mrs Brignall’s evidence that she had said the baby breathed just once and died.

The prisoner denied telling the witness that the child breathed once, but the witness said she was positive the prisoner told her so.

The prisoner was then asked if she had anything to say, but fainted away, and was removed from the Court.

Assizes Case 1876 December 9th

On Tuesday last, at the Winter Assizes held at Winchester, before Sir Robert Lush, Ann Goodfellow, 3- (labourer), was arraigned for the wilful murder of her male child, at Salisbury, on the 19th July.

Mr Ravenhill and Mr Crofton prosecuted, and Mr Matthews defended the prisoner. Similar evidence to that published by us shortly after the offence was adduced, and the jury, after consulting a short time, found the prisoner not guilty of wilful murder, but guilty of concealment of birth.

His Lordship, in passing sentence, said this was one of the most revolting cases he had ever heard of, both with regard to a mother’s feeling and also the general feeling of humanity. The manner of disposing of the body was such as to wean all sympathy from her. The jury had done right in treating the case as one of concealment of birth, but it was of such a revolting character and shrouded with such suspicion that it was not a case in which leniency might be considered. He should not sentence her to the full measure (two years) considering that she had been in prison since July. She would have to be imprisoned for fifteen months with hard labour.


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