Sunday, 5 April 2015

Mother's Death Sentence Reprieve

A woman who killed her young daughter as she was unable to pay for her upkeep was faced the death penalty but this was commuted to life imprisonment.

In January 1878 Emily Jones, a heavily pregnant 19 year old, came to Liverpool from Chepstow in South Wales. After giving birth she gave the baby girl to a nurse called Mrs Hughes who lived in Beaufort Street and took a position in the Kirkdale Industrial School as a laundry assistant.

After leaving there in March 1879 she took the child back and went to stay with her sister in Bembridge Street, off Wellington Road in Toxteth. On Sunday 30th March Jones told her sister Fanny Clarkson that she was taking the little girl back to the nurse and would pay 2s 6d for maintencance.

On 1st April Fanny was cleaning the room where Jones stayed and moved a box, which she thought unusually heavy. She opened it and found the dead body of the child inside and her husband called the police. Constable Phillips was examining the room when Jones returned from being out looking for work. When asked what she knew about the box she broke down, admitting that she had strangled the child as she was just a poor servant girl and couldn't afford to raise her.

A postmortem confirmed the cause of death was strangulation by tying a chord around the child's neck and Jones was committed for trial at the assizes. Her defence was that she was insane at the time of the killing and her old doctor from Chepstow travelled to give evidence, saying she had suffered fits of mania as a child. However doctors who had seen her in gaol were of the opinion she was of sound mind, leading to her being found guilty and sentenced to death, but with a recommendation for mercy due to her young age.

Jones was due to hang on 18th May alongside Thomas Johnson but a week beforehand her sentence was respited to allow for the Home secretary to look further into the case. On 30th May it was confirmed that a reprieve had been granted and the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.

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