FULL TEXT (archaic spelling retained): Mary Compton, Condemned for murthering 4 Children put out to her to nurse, which she wilfully starv’d, that she might take more in their room. I visited her, when she first was committed to Newgate; I spent a considerable time with her, after the publick duties of the Sabbath were ended, she then being sick in her Bed. I counsell’d her to call to mind the evil course of her Life. She reply’d, that she had been a great Sinner, but would not confess any particular sin, and denied the starving of any Child. She came not to the Chappel, till convicted of murthering four Children. I endeavoured to make her sensible of that horrid and barbarous crime, but she still denied it, saying only, that she had been a great sinner, and many ways had provokt God, and that he had justly laid her under his heavy wrath. She yet remained secure that she should neither be condemned, nor dye for the said murtherous practices. Being askt before her execution, in what condition her soul stood before God, she still was insensible of her crimes, proved evidently against her. She said, that her peace was made with God, which words she utter’d in a most trembling manner, to the amazement of those who heard her presume of Gods mercy upon so slight grounds.
[Samuel Smith, A True ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR, CONFESSION, AND Last Dying SPEECHES Of the Criminals that were Executed at TYBURN, On Monday the 23d of October, 1693, p. 2]
The Injured Children, or, The Bloudy Midwife
A Midwife which at Poplar dwell'd,
now Newgate is her doom,
'Tis said she several Children kill'd,
and hid them under Ground.
She left a Boy and Girl at home,
besides an infant small,
And left them no Provision,
which made the Children bawl:
They cried so loud the Neighbours heard
who went for their Relief,
The Boy immediately declar'd
their Misery and Grief.
I'th' Sellar on a Shelf thats high
a Basket there you'l find,
And in it two dead Children lye,
[Anon., The Injured Children, or, The Bloudy Midwife (London, 1693) Printed and Sold by T. Moore]
Bloody minded Midwife
Neighbours on e'ery side.
The Officers and other Men,
did open straight the door,
Whereas the Boy he told them then,
that they might find two more,
Young Children in a Basket dead.
upon a shelf below,
They search'd the Place as he had said,
and found it even so.
This spectacle amaz'd them all,
so soon as they were found,
Live Virmin did about them craul,
while lying above ground,
At length they dug the Cellar floor,
directed by the Boy,
Where they found six or seven more,
the which she did destroy.
[Bloody minded Midwife, Printed for J. Bissel, at the Bible and Harp in West-Smith-Field.]
EXCERPT: A similarly themed ballad The Bloody Minded Midwife lamented that in Poplar, London, ‘Full Three and Thirty Years ago, the Midwife did begin, And ever since has been Murdering, Young Infants from their Mother’s Womb, when first they drew their breath, Starving she made their dismal doom, or, some such Cruel Death’. This midwife’s despicable actions were revealed when both she and her maid left the house and two small children who had been left with a baby ‘starving with bitter crys’ called out to passers-by. The tone of this ballad was rather more sad and quizzical, having explained how a search revealed the bodies of infants both in the house and the cellar, the narrator asked ‘O Cruel Wretch that this could do, a Monster to all good, How could she this her hands imbrew, in little Infants blood, How could she slumber Night or Day, or take one wink of rest, While little Muther’d Infants lay, which might her sleep molest.’ The same story was retold in several other ballads including The Injured Children, or, The Bloudy Midwife, and The Midwife of Poplar’s Sorrowful Confession.
Another Broadside is: The Midwife of Poplar's Sorrowful Confession and Lamentation in Newgate Who was Condemned to Dye for that Horrid and Unheard of Murder, which she committed on the Bodys of several young infants, whom she Starved to Death, and was accordingly Executed for the same in Holbourn, upon the 23d. of this instant October, 1693. Tune of, Russels last Farewel. Licensed according to Order.; Printed for J. Bissel, at the Bible and Harp in West-Smith-Field.