A Spilsby Mystery

Decomposed Baby’s Body Found
An inquest was held at the Courthouse in Spilsby on Monday afternoon last, on the body of a female child found under circumstances as detailed below.
The coroner was Dr. Clegg, of Boston, and the foreman of the jury Mr. Henry Hobson.
The Coroner addressing the jury said that on Sunday the dead body of a female child, in an advanced state of decomposition, was found in the back yard of Jonas Thorns, in New Spilsby.
The body was in such a putrid state as to be entirely beyond identification. It must have been in the possession of som one for some time, and its state had compelled them to get rid of it.
They couldn’t bury it, or otherwise dispose of it, or they would never have placed it where found.
He (the Coroner) had decided to hold an inquest so that the whole matter could be made public, and thus prevent any expression of opinion adverse to any one being made in the future. The jury proceeded to view the body, after which…
Jonas Thorn, an old man, of New Spilsby, bricklayer’s labourer, said that on Saturday night he fastened his garden gate. Next morning when he got up he found the gate open.
His wife called his attention to a bungle which was laid near the water-butt, under the wall, and near the coal house door. He went to see what it contained and found the dead body which the jury had seen.
It was wrapped in something white, then in some sacking, and agin in some old dress material.; He immediately covered it up and fetched Pc Carr, who took it away.
He lived at the end house and whoever put the child where he found it must have walked round the house end to do so. He was not disturbed by anyone during the night.
Pc Carr at nine o’clock went down to Thorn’s. He was shown a parcel and took it to the Courthouse. He first looked in the wrapper and saw it was a dead child. He borrowed a sack to convey the body to the Courthouse. The jury had just viewed the body.
Mr. J L Burgess, surgeon, said that 10 o’clock on Sunday morning he was asked by the superintendent of police to examine the contents of a parcel in his charge. He did so and found the putrid remains of a female child of full term, but on account of the purification there was not sufficient evidence to prove it had been born alive.
If there were marks of violence on it he would be prevented from recognizing them owing to the state it was in. It was a large child, at least 22 inches, while the average size was 15 to 21 inches.
After the Coroner had shortly summed up the jury returned a verdict that the child had been found dead and that there was no evidence that it had been born alive.
Source: Skegness Herald 30th May 1884

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