Trials for concealment of birth
The Hampshire Advertiser for 6 March 1875 had a section reporting on recent crimes and sentences passed by the courts. It included details of two young women who were charged with the crime of concealment of birth.
Image from page 145 Agnes; or Beauty and Pleasure shelfmark 12625.f.16 BL flickr
Agnes Tiller and Ellen Tubbs were both nineteen years old and working as servants in Hampshire. They gave birth to daughters on 22 and 29 December 1874 respectively. Agnes was accused not only of concealing the birth but also of disposing of the baby in a box in the town of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Ellen's daughter, Lydia Jane Tubbs, was born in Baghurst, Hampshire. In both cases the babies sadly died, and the birth and death indexes for Agnes’ daughter simply record her as ‘female’ Tubbs.
The girls were charged with the crime of concealement and on 1 March 1875 they were each sentenced to two weeks' imprisonment. The judge trying the cases remarked that
'the degree of immorality in this county as shown by these cases was discreditable to Hampshire'.
Hampshire Advertiser 6 March 1875 British Newspaper Archive
Ellen was born in 1855 in Wimborne, Dorset, the daughter of Henry Tubbs, a fireman, and his wife Frances. In 1881 Ellen can be found living with her parents in Southampton and working as a laundress. Ellen was married in 1883 in Paddington, London to James Holmes a widower and baker from Botley in Hampshire. They did not have any children.
Agnes continued to work as a servant. In 1881 she was a parlour maid to the Hony family at Colbury Manor House, Eling, Hampshire. She was married in 1886 to William Mercer, a butler, and they had a daughter Lizzie Gray Mercer born in Bedhampton, Hampshire in 1891. In 1911 William and Agnes were living Fordingbridge, Hampshire and the census records include mention of both of Agnes' children – her daughter Lizzie with her husband William, and the daughter whose birth she had tried to conceal in 1874.
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British Newspaper Archive - Hampshire Advertiser 6 March 1875