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Newgate Calendar - ELIZABETH LARGHAN


Executed at Chelmsford, March 21, 1804, for the Murder of her Female Infant Child

            THIs wretched woman was tried on the 8th of March, 1804, before Mr. Baron Hotham, at the Chelmsford As sizes; she was the wife of James Larghan, a private in the 18th light dragoons. This was not the usual case of the murder of a bastard child. The facts were very few, and very conclusive; they were proved by the woman who kept the Sawyer's-Arms public-house at Colchester, and her servants. James Philbrick, the surgeon, stated, that he was called in on the 13th of July last; he was shown the child, which, from appearances, he undertook to say, had been born alive. A string was tied round the neck, by which the vessel of the head was very turgid, and the eyes much blood-shot. The ligature had also caused a livid mark all round the neck. The bag was very much blooded, which would not have been the case if the child had been dead-born. She then told him, that her husband had often upbraided her with his being reproached by his comrades, that she was with child before he married her, and that the child of which she was pregnant, was none of his; and that, in order to keep the secret of her delivery from her husband, she had tied the string round the infant's neck to prevent its crying.

            Mr. Baron Hotham addressed the jury with his usual humanity on behalf of the accused, and observed, that this this was not the case which usually occurred, of the death of a bastard child: but it was one in which the indictment charged the prisoner with the murder of her child, without those motives which sometimes leads to the commission of that crime. He told them, that before they found a verdict of guilty against the prisoner, they must be convinced in their own minds that the child was born alive, and that it perished by the wilful act of the prisoner; for if it was born dead, or came by its death accidentally, though the prisoner was not aware of its death, and applied the string meaning to destroy it, yet if she did not in fact perpetrate that intention, they must acquit her. The jury deliberated about half an hour, and then returned a verdict of Guilty.

            The learned judge, in a short but feeling address, passed the sentence of the law upon the prisoner, that she should be hanged on Saturday morning next (March 21st,) and afterwards her body to be dissected and anatomized. The prisoner was a very decent looking woman apparently about thirty years of age. During her trial she was much agitated, and after the verdict seemed nearly insensible: at the place of execution she behaved with penitence and great resignation.


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