Saturday, September 17, 2011

Louise Mabre, French Child Care Provider Who Murdered 63 Infants - 1673

Here is a long 17th century pamphlet title that summarized the entire story (the archaic spelling has been preserved):

Pamphlet title: The murderous midwife, with her roasted punishment: being a true and full relation of a midwife that was put into an iron cage with sixteen wild-cats, and so roasted to death, by hanging over a fire, for having found in her house-of-office no less than sixty two children, at Paris in France. (London, 1673, pamphlet, 6 pages)

Note: A “house-of-office” is what we today call an “outhouse.”


Note: The following newspaper article was widely syndicated in 1917 as a “curio” filler. It contained an erroneous date, transposing the correct date from 1673 to “1763.”

FULL TEXT: Our forefathers deemed hanging too good for people who went about deliberately poisoning other people. They substituted for that punishment boiling to death, the first to suffer tills penalty being Richard Rosse, cook to the bishop of Rochester in the reign of Henry VIII.

In medieval times in Europe poisoners when detected were usually broken alive upon the wheel after having first been given a taste of the rack, while in prison awaiting execution as a sort of gentle reminder of what they had presently got to go through.

For wholesale poisoners, however, even this dreadful death was not deemed sufficiently painful, and now and special modes of punishment were invented. Thus Louise Mabre, a Parisian baby farmer, who in 1763 was proved to have done to death no fewer than sixty-two infants by administering to them carefully graduated dose of white arsenic mingled with powdered glass, was sentenced to be shut up in an iron cage with sixteen wild cats and suspended over a low fire.

This was done, with the result that when the cats became infuriated with heat and then they turned their rage upon her “and after thirty-five minutes of the most horrible sufferings put an end to her existence, the whole of the cats dying at the same time or within a few minutes after.” — London Mail.

[“Boiled Them To Death. - How Poisoners Were Punished In the Good Old Days.” (From Daily Mail, London), Denton Journal (Md.), May 19, 1917, p. 3]


This midwife's house was searched after rumors circulated about her, and during the search the bodies of 62 infants were found amongst the contents of her privy. [Emily, Appalachian State University, "The murderous midwife...",  Blog: The woman's part - Women in the Renaissance, May 1, 2009]


For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.


More cases: Female Serial Killers Executed


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