Penny Tray wrote: ↑
Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:02 am
23 APRIL 1909
WOMAN CHARGED WITH CHILD MURDER
At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court yesterday – before Mr. Hugh Laird, Hon. Sheriff Substitute – a farm servant from Ardrossan parish, aged 22 years, emitted a declaration on a charge of child murder.
It is alleged that on 20th or 21st instant, at the farm where she was serving, she placed her illegitimate daughter, aged five months, in a boiler and left her there till she died, afterwards burning the body in the boiler fire.
Accused was committed to prison pending further inquiries.
[PREVIOUSLY POSTED: -
7 JUNE 1909
CHARGE OF CHILD MURDER
Mary Brown Murdoch, Farm Servant, a respectably dressed young woman, was on Saturday remitted from Ayr to the High Court in Glasgow on June 15 on a charge of child murder.
The indictment charges her with having on April 20 or 21, at the farm of Dykemains, Ardrossan, exposed her illegitimate female child, aged five months, by placing her in an empty boiler in an outhouse and leaving her without food and unattended for a night, with the result that the child died.
A plea of not guilty was tendered.
17 JUNE 1909
HIGH COURT IN GLASGOW - AYRSHIRE FARM TRAGEDY - VERDICT OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE
MARY BROWN MURDOCH, a neatly attired young woman of fresh complexion, was charged with having, on April 20 or 21, 1909, at the farm of Dykemains, in the parish of Ardrossan, Ayrshire, occupied by JOHN HOGARTH, farmer, culpably exposed her illegitimate female child, aged 5 months or thereby, by placing her in an empty boiler in one of the outhouses of said farm, deserting her, and leaving her without food or sustenance and unattended for a night, whereby the said child died, and she did thus murder her.
Accused pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr. John Mair, advocate, who, was instructed by Mr. Alexander B. Boyd, writer, Ayr.
MARY ANN JOHNSON, 64 Montgomerie Lane, Ardrossan, replying to Mr. W. Lyon, Advocate Depute, said that on February 20 accused came to her house and asked if she would keep her child. She agreed and was to receive payment of 18s per month. Once or twice between that time and the middle of April accused came to see the child. About that time she spoke of going to Canada, and said she must get someone to take the child first. Her parents, she said, were in Canada, and she was to join them.
On April 20 she came to the house of witness about half-past nine at night and said she wanted the child as she had got a good home for it in Saltcoats. Witness asked her to leave the child until the morning seeing the hour was so late. She said, however, that she must take the child at once. That was the last witness saw of the child.
Next day she went to the farm of Dykemains and asked accused what she had done with the child. At that time accused owed her about 25s for the board of the child. On asking where the child was Murdoch replied, “Tell one, tell another,” and she was not going to tell anyone.
Cross-examined by Mr. Mair – It was a very delicate child, although it improved while it was with her.
GEORGE JOHNSON, husband of previous witness, gave corroborative evidence.
Mrs. ANNIE HOGARTH, Dykemains Farm, said accused had been in their service from December till April. She knew that in November accused had given birth to a child, and had considerable difficulty in getting someone to keep it. She returned to Ardrossan between 10 and 11 p.m. on April 20. Accused told her that she had got her child away for good. The child was a very delicate one, and she thought it would not live long. She was surprised that it had lived so long.
Mrs. RACHEL BLACKWOOD, farm servant, Dykemains Farm, stated that on 21 April accused said to her that she had got her child away for good. In the afternoon she came and offered her some child’s clothing, which she refused.
JOHN HOGARTH, junior, (13), Dykemains Farm, spoke to having found what looked like a piece of flesh at the fireplace in the washing-room.
WILLIAM DUFFUS, an inspector of Ayrshire constabulary said on April 21 he went to the farm and asked Murdoch about her child. He did not get a satisfactory reply. Asking her further, she said she gave the child to a tramp woman who was sitting on the road near the cemetery and the farm. She was unable to give a satisfactory description of the woman. Witness then told her she might be charged in connection with the disappearance of her child. She then stated that she had brought the child from Ardrossan to Dykemains Farm the previous night and had placed it while asleep in an empty boiler in an outhouse, and that the following morning when she went to the boiler she found that the child was dead. She then took the body of the child to the washing-house, and after lighting the boiler fire and taking off the child’s clothes she placed the body in the boiler fire. She stated further that she kept the fire burning until the body was entirely burned. The outhouse had an open front.
Inspector JAMES FINDLAY and Inspector JOHN McILWRICK also gave evidence.
Professor John Glaister read reports regarding the examinations conducted by him on certain productions in the case, including burned bone matter, &c.
Doctor McAlister, Kilmarnock, also read reports prepared by him regarding productions in the case.
The accused, who had been sobbing bitterly during the hearing of the case, gave evidence on her own behalf. She spoke in clear and confident tones. She was, she said, 22 years of age, and the daughter of a farmer. Her father and other members of the family left this country last year for Canada. It was owing to her condition that she did not accompany them. A young man had promised to marry her, and this was known to her parents. Her child was born in Saltcoats on November 8. Proceeding, she told of the difficulty she had in getting anyone to keep her child. It was very delicate. The doctor at its birth said it might live if great care was taken of it.
After getting the child from Mrs. Johnson she did not take it into the farmhouse, and give trouble to her employers, and decided to place it in the outhouse for the night. It was well wrapped up, and besides its ordinary clothing a shawl and cloak were placed on it. It had a good meal, and the feeder of the bottle was in its mouth when she left. When she discovered next morning at five o’clock that it was dead she was greatly distressed, and, labouring under this destress, she burned the body.
Mrs. ANNIE McGINN, Ardrossan, said the child was very delicate.
Doctor JOHN McDONALD, Ardrossan, spoke to having examined the child which was in a very poor state of physique, the reason being its inability to digest food. The impression he got was that it would never thrive.
The Advocate Depute said from the nature of the evidence he thought the ends of justice would be served by asking the jury to return a verdict of culpable homicide.
The jury, by a majority of 9 votes to 6, found accused guilty of culpable homicide, and made a strong unanimous recommendation for the leniency of the Court.
Lord Dundas (addressing accused) – I am very willing to keep in mind the fact that the jury were not unanimous, and still more willing to give effect to their strong unanimous recommendation for mercy, and I shall give you the lightest sentence I feel any judge can afford to give you. Four months’ imprisonment.
The lenient sentence was received with applause by those in court.]