Berrett, infant

Berrett, infant      1883 January 6th          Steeple Ashton

On Friday in last week, Mr F T Sylvester held an inquest on the body of a child which was found buried in a garden patch at Ashton Common.

Supt Baldwin, deputy chief-constable, deposed that he charged Lucy Ann Berrett, a dressmaker, with concealing the birth of a child, and took her into custody. After being cautioned, she admitted that she was the mother of the child. She also said that the child lived, but died “shortly after,” and was born “five weeks ago last Sunday.”

Dr Taylor, who was next called, said he was of opinion that the lungs had been inflated, and that the child had breathed for a short time. He did not think that they were so fully inflated as they would have been if the child had lived two or three hours. He could give no definite opinion as to the cause of death, but he believed the child died very shortly after birth. His opinion was it did not have a separate existence.


Emma Berrett, the grandmother of the child and wife of James Berrett, after being first cautioned by the Coroner, swore that she was present at the birth of the child on Sunday five weeks ago. She did not know five minutes before the birth that her daughter was enciente, and she had no suspicion of it. The child breathed once, but not after it was fully born. Her daughter had been about the house all day before her confinement; she had prepared no baby linen.

Lucy Ann Berrett, the mother, in reply to the Coroner, said she wished to state that she was the mother of the child, that it was born alive, but that it died shortly afterwards.

The Coroner, in summing up the evidence, told the jury he thought death arose as described by the grandmother, but as there was no positive direct evidence, he recommended the jury to return an open verdict, and leave any further proceedings in the hands of the police.

The jury, after a brief consultation, returned a verdict of “Found dead.”

On Monday, the girl Berrett and her mother were charged with concealing the birth of the younger prisoner’s child, and committed for trial at the ensuing Assizes.

I unfortunately found no further account of their assizes trial – ED.


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