Mother Throws Child out of a Window

I found this story by following @Amateur_Casual on Twitter. Their post is here. The original source was the Illustrated London News, December 19, 1885.

"Throwing a Child out of a Window":

"On Wednesday, last week, Dr. Diplock concluded an adjourned inquiry at the Talbot, Clarendon Road, Notting Hill, as to the death of Henry John Base, aged nine months. The mother, Esther Base, is now under remand at the Hammersmith Police-court on a charge of causing the death of the child by throwing it out of a window at 37, Talbot Grove, on Sunday morning.

"The evidence given at the first hearing went to show that the mother had suffered from extreme nervous excitement, and that she laboured under a delusion that someone wanted to take away her child. On the day in question she rose from her seat and threw the child out of the window.

"On this occasion additional evidence as to the woman's habits of sobriety were adduced. Fanny Tyler, of 1, St. George's Road, said the mother formerly lodged I her house. She had frequently seen her under the influence of drink. The landlady of 37, Talbot Grove, was also called, and gave similar evidence. Dr. Whitlock said that when he saw the woman on Friday she admitted having been drinking a large amount of gin. She was then suffering from delirium tremens.

"It also appeared that the woman went to the Talbot on Friday, and threw the child over the bar, saying, "Take care of it, as he is going to murder it." The jury returned the following verdict: the child died from the effects of a fall from a window, that it was the act of Esther Base, who, at the time of committing such act, was of unsound mind through the influence of drink."

I'm not sure who the "he" in question is–possibly her husband?–or why he was going to murder the child. One of the frustrating things about Victorian periodicals (especially ones reporting crime) is that they leave out really crucial context and explanations. I find they follow a rough pattern: 1.) sensational headline/first sentence; 2.) general description of the situation; 3.) a bit of evidence, but little explanation; 4.) legal verdict, no follow-up.

There is so, so much more I want to know about this case! For example, was this woman married? Did she have other children? Did she show remorse for her child's death? Who is the "he" she talks about? What was with the paranoia aspect they only touch one at the beginning? Did she serve any prison time, have to pay a fine, or have to go to an asylum for her "unsound mind"–or did she just get to walk out of the court room? Did she have a previous record?

If anyone has any further details, give me a shout.

Also, I love the illustration. It SO does not match up with the story. She looks completely respectable, and the baby looks like it somehow accidentally bounced out of the window, not that she threw it. She's fairly far away–that's quite the infant toss. It certainly isn't portrayed as her deliberately chucking the child out because of drink or mental imbalance. I wonder why the paper gave her such a flattering illustration.

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One Response to Mother Throws Child out of a Window

  1. Anonymous says:

    Devil baby escaping is what it looks like to me 😉


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