Abandoned Children

12-14 November 1701   Yesterday a young woman took a coach in Red Lion-street, to go to Fleetstreet, and coming out, left a bandbox behind her, which a person going by perceiving, he presently went into the coach, bidding the coach-man drive towards Cheapside; but he had no sooner opened his prize, e’re a child within it fell a crying, which the coachman hearing came down, and carrying the man before a Justice, he was obliged to give security to maintain the child. [English Post]

30 July–6 August 1720   Last Thursday night, about midnight, a male child, very handsomely dress’d, was left upon a stall adjoying to the Black Dog in Shoreditch; some penetrating heads are ready to conjecture it was very near its right father’s door, but to that we can say nothing: However, the Constable and Church-Wardens have done the part of good Samaritans in providing a nurse for it, and we are told would gladly have conversation with its real father or mother. (London Journal)

4 December 1725   From North-Wilts, That some time ago a woman, who liv’d with a baker as a servant, was deliver’d of two bastard children, which she laid to another person, but afterwards left them to perish for want of nourishment. [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

19 March 1726   A woman big with child hang’d herself with her handkerchief in Covent Garden Round House, where she had been committed for being with child, and not discovering the father. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

17 September 1726   Bath, September 7. On the 4th of this instant, a servant-maid at the Catherine-Wheel in this town, was deliver’d of a bastard child, about 1 o’clock in the morning, by herself, whom she most inhumanely murder’d, by cutting its throat from ear to ear, with a penknife, also its mouth and left cheek: She afterwards ty’d the child up in a handkerchief, and put it by her bedside, which was discovered by her mistress, who came up into the room the same morning to see for her, imagining something more than ordinary was the matter with her; which proved too fatal to her belief. She confess’d to her mistress, that the father of the child was William Tyler, a West Country tanner. We hear she is since dead. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

19 October 1728   Not long since a little boy, in a handsome scarlet cloak, passing thro’ Tavistock-Court, in the dusk of the evening in his way from schoool, was accosted by a young gentleman whose profession was to carry a link [torch], who after some little familiarities, ask’d him to let him try how his cloak would fit him, which the child consenting to, he took it off, and putting it on his own shoulders, after strutting about like the jay in borrow’d plumes, he lik’d it so well that he thought fit to march off with it. This may caution all parents not to let their children walk the streets alone, especially at night. (The Flying-Post)

27 December 1729   On Monday in the morning, a new-born infant was found wrap’d in a dirty cloth, and laid upon a bulk upon the Hay-market, with a note wrote in the following words, viz. ‘The parents of this infant being miserably poor, pray that some charitable person will find it a coffin and shroud, and give it a Christian burial.’ (London Journal)

27 November 1735   Chester le Street, Oct. 10. A few days ago a chlid of James and Elizabeth Leesh of this town, was play'd for at cards, at the sign of the Salmon, one game, for 4 shillings against the child, by Henry and John Trotter, Robert Thomson and Thomas Ellison, which was won by the latter, and delivered to them accordingly. (The Old Whig)

22 December 1739   One evening last week a woman was seen by the boy at the Crown Tavern without Cripplegate, stooping down to the kennel against the White-Horse Inn, laying down something in the kennel, and afterwards went hastily away; his curiosity led him to see what it was, when he was surprized with the cry of a child, which was naked, and as it came from its mother; it was immediately taken from thence and wrapt up in a piece of blanket, and laid on a lock of straw, till the parish officers came to take charge of it, who have committed it to the care of their nurses, and have since had it baptiz’d by the name of Noah. (Read’s Weekly Journal, or, British-Gazetteer)




(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Abandoned Children", 6 December 2001, updated 1 January 2006, 30 January 2006 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/children.htm>

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