Author Topic: Concealing the birth of a child  (Read 1457 times)

Offline iolaus

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #9 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 13:51 BST (UK) »
Any stillbirth to an unmarried mother was automatically deemed as abortion or infanticide unless proved otherwise (I can't remember when it changed - this was in some old midwifery history book I've got)

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Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #10 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 13:53 BST (UK) »
Offences Against the Person Act 1861
Concealing the Birth of a Child
60 If any Woman shall be delivered of a Child, every Person who shall, by any secret Disposition of the dead Body of the said Child, whether such Child died before, at, or after its Birth, endeavour to conceal the Birth thereof, shall be guilty of a Misdemeanor, and being convicted thereof shall be liable, at the Discretion of the Court, to be imprisoned for any Term not exceeding Two Years, with or without Hard Labour: Provided that if any Person tried for the Murder of any Child shall be acquitted thereof, it shall be lawful for the Jury by whose Verdict such Person shall be acquitted to find, in case it shall so appear in Evidence, that the Child had recently been born, and that such Person did, by some secret Disposition of the dead Body of such Child, endeavour to conceal the Birth thereof, and thereupon the Court may pass such Sentence as if such Person had been convicted upon an Indictment for the Concealment of the Birth.


Stan
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Offline Top-of-the-hill

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #11 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 14:16 BST (UK) »
   It sounds like a very lenient sentence? Could she have been "feeble minded" in some way? Such girls always have been, and still are, taken advantage of.
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Offline giblet

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #12 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 21:33 BST (UK) »
imprisoned for 2 weeks.

Sometimes there are newspaper articles on these sorts of cases and at times give a bit of information on the mother's life. Could be worth a look. Prison records might give something up as well.

Offline stanmapstone

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #13 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 21:41 BST (UK) »
There are thousands of  newspaper reports on  cases of concealing the birth of a child. The earliest one in the British Newspaper Archive is for March 1803.

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Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #14 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 22:18 BST (UK) »
An episode of BBC tv series "Garrow's Law" concerned a case of a servant-girl who had given birth to a stillborn baby in the cellar of house where she worked. The drama series was based on the real lawyer Garrow who lived late 18th-19thC.

Offline Maiden Stone

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #15 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 22:21 BST (UK) »
I remember 2 modern cases, 1 in Ireland, 1 in Scotland. 1980s I think. 

Offline scarlettslipper

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #16 on: Tuesday 21 August 18 23:33 BST (UK) »
That's a really thought provoking thread, what about illigitemate children who might have been concealed born into society and concealed by higher echelons of society was this rule invoked for just commoners ???

Offline sallyyorks

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Re: Concealing the birth of a child
« Reply #17 on: Wednesday 22 August 18 01:43 BST (UK) »
Quote
Abortion is a different offence, so the fact she's been convicted of concealment would indicate it wasn't an abortion, imho.
Quote
If they could prove illegal abortion they would try for that offence and I think the sentence would be far more than 2 weeks.

Those are good thoughts, though perhaps they couldn't prove it, or didn't want to try?

I'm wondering whether anyone has had a similar event in their family history and knows more than I do about the legal situation back then (1865).

I have come across a similar event in my extended tree at about the same time. It was two women who were in court together on the same charge.
I don't think it should be assumed that 'the birth' was by the person who was convicted. As far as I could make out, in the case I came across, at least one, probably both,  of the women had not given birth and that it was a blatant criminal act. An illegal abortion or forcing another woman to 'dispose' of a body for example. Maybe even related to organised prostitution?
Sorry to describe it in those terms, but if people were desperate, going hungry and with other children to feed, I suppose they took desperate measures. As xinia says, it was different, and to us  unimaginable, 'times'

Are you sure that the person convicted was the one who had given birth?