Monday, May 25, 2015

Jane Hattersley, Serial Baby-Killing Mom – England, 1609

The title of the 1610 pamphlet tells the story (archaic spelling is retained): The bloudy mother, or The most inhumane murthers, committed by Iane Hattersley vpon diuers infants, the issue of her owne bodie: & the priuate burying of them in an orchard with her araignment and execution. As also, the most loathsome and lamentable end of Adam Adamson her Master, the vnlawfull begetter of those vnfortunate babes being eaten and consumed aliue with wormes and lice. At east Grinsted in Sussex neere London, in Iuly last. 1609.

[T. B. (Thomas Brewer) The bloudy mother, or The most inhumane murthers, committed by Iane Hattersley vpon diuers infants …, London: printed by Iohn Busbie, and are to be sold by Artheur Iohnson in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the White Horse, 1610]


EXCERPT: The case of Jane Hattersley shows the importance of neighbours in the discovery of infanticide. Jane was a young servant who had been committing adultery with her master for a number of years. On a number of occasions she had became pregnant and murdered the newborn child. The second time when she was ‘mistrusted to be with child, she was searched by women and was found to be so’, however, she was ‘presently seene around againe well, and so little ... as was justly suspected.’

Her third pregnancy and infanticide was also commented upon by her neighbours. Frances Foorde a neighbour came to her house during her labour and heard through the door ‘the shriek of a newborn infant’, which she did not see or hear again, although Jane came out to talk to her.

This evidence was given at her trial and led to her eventual execution.

[Laura Spence, Women Who Murder In Early Modern England, 1558-­1700, Dissertation, University of Warwick, September 2010, pp. 34-5]

The illustration above was taken from of an account of a different, and later, case: Bloody Newes from Dover. Being a True Relation of the Great and Bloudy Murder, Committed by Mary Champion (an Anabaptist) who Cut off her Childs Head, being 7. weekes old, and Held it to her Husband to Baptize. Printed in the Yeare of Discovery, Feb. 13. 1647 (London: S.N).


For more cases of this type, see Serial Baby-Killer Moms.


More cases: Female Serial Killers Executed


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