EXCERPT: This woman Abigall Hill, was looked upon by all her neighbours, for a woman inclined to much compassion, she seemed much to pity young children, that were in distress, and according to her power to relieve them. She was therefore supposed to be a good nurse into whose charge and care the nursing up of young children should be committed.
She lived many years in the parish of St. Olaves in Southwark with her husband who is yet living, ans some children she brought up carefully, and returning them after the time was out unto the parish who paid her for them, thinking her to be a careful and good woman; and this was the reason that many children were brought unto her, and if any time any child forsaken by the wicked mother was left upon the parish, she would be ready to receive and undertake to bring it up being a nurse as wicked, and more cruel than the mother.
Seven years thus she lived, and no notice was taken of what became of her children if any were missing, it being believed that they died by sickness, or having so many of them lying on her hands she had delivered the charge of them to some poor woman to be careful of them. It was oftentimes murmured indeed amongst her neighbours that such a child was conveyed away and much suspicion there was amongst them because they could not tell what was become of it, and the suddenness of the removal of the child without any noise of sickness or discontent did add much unto their jealousy. At the last, it pleased God that this wicked woman and her husband did fall out, where in the heat of his passion he did upbraid her with the children she had made away.
This presently was taken notice of by the neighbours, who affirming it was pity was wicked creature should live upon the Earth, did acquaint the constable with it. Who, carrying her before a justice of the peace (she having but little to say for herself), was sent to Newgate, and at the Sessions following, which began on Wednesday, December 15th, her indictment was read for murdering of four children. And she being not able to say anything for herself, as to give answer what became of the children or, if they were dead, to satisfy where they were buried, the jury found her guilty, not only for that horrid murder, but for the charge against her that she had made a trade of it, and that the Quarter Day she would borrow children of her poor acquaintance and bring them to the master of the parish as if they were those she had taken into her custody to nurse, and having received her pay for them she would return them again unto those of whom she had borrowed them.
All the confession which she made at the bar was that indeed once one of her children lying sick and but little hope of life, she did wring it by the neck and killed it to put it out of its pain. For this and her other horrid murders she was condemned to suffer death and be hanged at Cheapside, which accordingly was performed on Wennesday, December 22nd, 1658. Being come to the place of execution, either the stubbornness of her resolution or the desperateness of her condition had made her almost senseless, for she made no confession at all being advised of the shortness of her life and to meet with God by repentance, she would return no answer to the admonitions of the divine nor of any other that did give her any saving counsels. It is observable that being on the ladder, as the executioner was fitting the fatal rope about her neck, she turned suddenly unto him as if she had been in some passion and said unto him, “What! Do you make account to choke me?” She had time given on her to make confession, but the people perceiving that she abused their expectation the hangman as the last turned her off the ladder and she died miserably, as she died mercilessly.
[from pages 10-14, in: A True relation of the most horrid and barbarous murders committed by Abigall Hill of St. Olaves Southwark, on the persons of foure infants; parish children, whom she undertooke to nurse, and her most deceitfull borrowing of other children of her poore acquaintance, whom on every quarter day she would bring to the over-seers of the parish, and receive her quarters pay for them, as if they had bin the same children which had bin committed to her charge to nurse. For which most cruell murders, being convicted and condemned at the sessions held at the Old-Baily. Wednesday Decemb. 15. Shee [sic] was accordingly executed on Wednesday, Decemb. 22. in Cheapside neare unto Woodstreet. Together with a true account of the strange and stubborn end she made, and her jeering of her executioner at the houre of her death. And a caveat to all other women that are suspected for the like unnaturall and most unmercifull practises. London : Printed for F. Coles, 1658.]
NOTE: Wikipedia: In British and Irish tradition, the quarter days were the four dates in each year on which servants were hired, school terms started, and rents were due. They fell on four religious festivals roughly three months apart and close to the two solstices and two equinoxes. The significance of quarter days is now limited, although leasehold payments and rents for land and premises in England are often still due on the old English quarter days. The quarter days have been observed at least since the Middle Ages, and they ensured that debts and unresolved lawsuits were not allowed to linger on. Accounts had to be settled, a reckoning had to be made and publicly recorded on the quarter days. The English quarter days (also observed in Wales and the Channel Islands) are Lady Day (25 March), Midsummer Day (24 June), Michaelmas (29 September), Christmas (25 December).