INFANTICIDE OF CHILD, 1833, Ramsgate
The Times Tuesday October 15th 1833 p 2. col E
RAMSGATE, Oct 13 - INFANTICIDE.-FOUR PERSONS COMMITTED FOR MURDER.
- A Coroner's inquest was held here on Monday last, before ------- Bradley, Esq., Mayor of Sandwich, and continued by adjournment on Tuesday and Friday, on the body of a new-born infant, found on the bathing sands on Sunday morning, Oct 6, wrapped in a coarse towel. Two medical gentlemen, Messrs Ayres and Lang, who examined the body, stated on oath, that they believed the child had been born alive, and had come to its death by strangulation or suffocation. Some evidence having been given touching the appearance of a single woman, named Mary Kidner, strong suspicion of her guilt was caused by her suddenly leaving the town.. A warrant was therefore issued for her apprehension, and she was followed, brought back from London on Thursday, and the Inquest having been resumed on Friday, after a painful and protracted investigation, a verdict of "Wilful murder" was returned against Edward Kidner, the father, Mary Kidner, his wife, Jane Kidner, his daughter, and Mary Kidner, her sister, the supposed mother of the murdered infant, who were forthwith committed to Sandwich gaol for trial at the ensuing sessions.
Kentish Gazette, Tu Oct 15 1833, page 3 column 3
A great deal of anxiety among the inhabitants of this town was awakened and
kept in exercise during the whole of last week, in consequence of a female
infant having been washed ashore on our bathing sands on the morning of Sunday
the 6th instant, and which evidently had not been in the water many hours.
An inquest was assembled on the following day, and having been twice adjourned they again met on Friday, when after a diligent investigation the coroner proceeded to sum up, reading the whole of the evidence and judiciously commenting thereon. The jury, after a deliberation of thirty minutes, returned a verdict of Wilful Murder against Mary KIDNER, and the father, mother and sister; all four of whom were immediately committed to Sandwich Gaol, to await their trial."
Dover Telegraph Sat. Dec 21 1833 page 8: Column 2
"Sandwich": The sessions which take place on the 26th are expected to be of longer duration than usual. There are 14 prisoners for trial; one case of murder and others for serious offences."
Dover Telegraph Sat. Dec 28 1833 page 8,
"Sandwich": (during the time of a violent storm which severely damaged the spire of St Clement Church):
SANDWICH GENERAL SESSIONS: "On Thursday a General Sessions of the Peace for this town and Port, and the Limbs, Liberties & Precincts thereof, was held before the Mayor, Recorder and a full bench of Magistrates. In consequence of the great interest excited by the case of child-murder from Ramsgate, in which the lives of four persons were at stake, and another capital charge, for stabbing, being for trial under Lord Ellenborough's act, the Court and Bench were unusually crowded. The calendar presented 16 cases; but the majority of them were minor offences, principally from Ramsgate" [report then given on the other cases].
"FRIDAY. The court assembled at ten o'clock and proceeded to the trial of Edward KIDNER, Jane KIDNER, Ann KIDNER and Mary KIDNER, for the murder of a new born child at Ramsgate. This case excited much attention from the circumstances of the youth of two of the parties, and of their parents being involved with them in the same jeopardy. After the jury had been severally sworn, Mary the supposed mother of the infant, having been unwell ever since her apprehension, and at one time in imminent danger was indulged with a chair.
Mr. Starr opened the proceedings entreating the jury to clear their kinds of all prejudice, stating, however, that the evidence elicited from the prisoners, at the inquest, would be produced against them. His address was nevertheless very impartial, enforcing upon the jury the necessity of their being certain that the child was alive after birth before they could convict. The circumstances of the child having been found on the shore at Ramsgate are already known to the public. Mr. Bolton stated, that on the 6th of October, he discovered the body of a female child, wrapped in a linen cloth. It appeared to have something tied round the neck to keep the cloth over the head. The body, being removed to the parish workhouse, was examined by Mr Ayres, surgeon, who stated it to be a fine healthy full grown child, of about 2 days old. He believed it to have been born alive; and, from the suffusion of blood in the head, that it had been suffocated; was present at the searching of KIDNER's house and premises, and from circumstances believed a woman had been delivered there; but in his opinion not by a surgeon; and thought the child had not died in consequence. From the state of the lungs he should say it was born alive, but would not say how long it might have breathed afterwards.
He examined Mary KIDNER on the 11th of October, in the presence of another surgeon, and a nurse. On telling her the purpose of his examination, she willingly submitted to it. Her breasts exhibited the appearance of coagulated milk, which on pressure flowed copiously; her general appearance was languid; but her spirits were wonderfully great, considering the circumstances. Mr Ayres continued - he believed that the child was 2 days old; the lungs when immersed floated; he had never heard that those of a stillborn child would do so - has heard of children dying during delivery suffocation and strangulation are the same, as regards the internal appearance of the head - the child might have breathed for a considerable time during a protracted delivery, and might have been suffocated from various accidental circumstances, as fainting or other debility of the mother. Mr. E. Lane, surgeon, accompanied Mr Ayres in his examination. He could not say that the child had breathed after separation from the mother - it might have died in the birth. His evidence in other respects generally agreed with Mr Ayres.
Three female witnesses proved conversations and circumstances, tending to show that the prisoner, Mary KIDNER, was pregnant previous to the 5th October. Some discussion now took place, as to whether the testimony of the prisoner, when before the Coroner, should be taken as evidence. W.W.Bradley Esq., the Coroner, saw Mary KIDNER give her deposition voluntarily. She denied her delivery, and even pregnancy, or that she had experienced any symptoms thereof. The learned Recorder summed up the evidence, and explained to the jury, that by Mr Peel's Act, they were allowed, in case they could not find a verdict for the capital offence, to find guilty of concealing the birth. The first question for their consideration, was respecting the murder; the second as to concealment of the birth. He went on to observe, it was clear the prisoner, Mary KIDNER, had been delivered within a week previous to the child being found, and no child of hers being produced or accounted for, was presumptive proof of the found child being hers. The capital part of the charge was not borne out by testimony. The death was not occasioned by hemmorage, but by suffocation, and that not by strangling, there being no marks of violence on the body.
The Jury, having consulted and deliberated for a considerable time, distinctly acquitted all the prisoners of the murder; but that Mary KIDNER was guilty of concealing the birth of her child, though not of that child. The Recorder, refusing to take this verdict, after a second deliberation another was returned not guilty of murder, but of concealing the birth of a child, there not being sufficient evidence to satisfy them that the child found was the off-spring of Mary KIDNER.
again refused to take such a verdict, and sent them out of court to reconsider
it. The jury at length, in perfect contradiction to their first verdict, found
that Mary KIDNER was guilty of murder.
Mr Hills, counsel for the prisoners, now rose and said he could not allow any private feeling to prevent what he considered his duty in this case, and desired to enter his most solemn protest against what had been done by the learned Recorder, in refusing the prior verdict. Sentence of the court on Mary KIDNER - to be imprisoned twelve months.
Last updated on 3rd September 2008
Appendix 78 - Infanticide at Ramsgate!