Saturday, 20 June 2015

Toxteth Mother Drowns Baby

A woman drowned her daughter as she was worried about being fiend for not having her vaccinated, but she was found to be insane at the time of the killing.

At 545am on 6th March 1891 thirty year old Mary Kavanagh woke her husband Arthur and told him she had drowned their nine month old daughter Mary. Arthur,a beerhouse keeper, sent for the police and also went to find a doctor.

When police officers arrived at the house in Upper Luke Street, Toxteth (off Windsor Street) they found Mary sat with the body of nine month old Norah on her lap. Mary told them that she had drowned her in a dolly tub that was in the yard as she feared being summonsed for not having her vaccinated.

Mary then attempted to breast feed the dead child and when she got up was staggering, although this was down to weakness not drink. When her neighbour came in to see what was going on, Mary asked who all the policemen were. At the detective office, Mary said she had no recollection of what had happened.Later that morning she appeared at the magistrates' court and was remanded pending the outcome of the inquest.

Rainhill Asylum
The following day an inquest took place before the deputy coroner Mr C.S. Samuell. Her neighbour Janet Ellams said she had known Mary for three years and she had often complained of pains in the head. She added that for the past week she had been acting strangely and had a wild look about her. otherwise she was very fond of Norah. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder, but asked for a rider to be added that Mary was depressed. Mr Samuell said that such a rider was unusual but not illegal and after rechecking with the jury foreman he added it on.

When Mary appeared at the assizes on 20th March both Dr Beamish from Walton gaol and Dr Wigglesworth from the Rainhill Asylum both gave evidence that she was unfit to plead. The judge ordered her to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure and she was transferred to Broadmoor where she remained for five years before being discharged back to her home.

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