Alicia Sotherland

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One week later, a rather sheepish Dr Watson appeared before the coroner to announce that the child's stomach had been found to contain only a tiny amount of milky fluid and nothing else.

THE job of a Victorian doctor was a tough one especially when attending to the needs of Sunderland's poor.

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Coroner Maynard was obviously left disgusted by her answer. "There is not another woman in England that has had 10 children and would not know feeding them on biscuits was killing them," he spat out.

"The tragic story started to unfold when he was called to visit Elizabeth Simpson, who lived in a squalid room at Garden Street," said local historian Norman Kirtlan.

"What are you feeding the child on?" demanded the doctor, after spotting crumbs around the baby's mouth. "Biscuits" answered the woman, leaving Dr Watson dumbstruck.

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"Biscuits!" the doctor echoed. "That is most improper, feeding a four day old baby with biscuits." After a stern telling off, he prescribed some medicine and went about his duties.

"According to Elizabeth, all of her children had died within a few days of being born and all had been fed on biscuits. That one had actually survived was nothing short of a miracle."

Eventually, Coroner Maynard opted to adjourn the tragic case to allow a post mortem examination to be carried out on little Isabella to find out, once and for all, just what had killed her.

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of breast milk on Simpson's clothes again, that the 'grieving mother' rallied herself to speak.

"Needless to say, Isabella slipped from life before the day was over. Then the good doctor had a sudden thought hadn't eight of Elizabeth's other babies died in similar circumstances?

Simpson, however, was unmoved. Indeed, it was only when midwife Mrs Finnegan brought up the evidence Vans Era Black Gum Sole

this, saying he was sure he had seen evidence of breast milk on the woman's clothing. A barrage of accusations and arguments then followed."

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"She started calling all persons medical a bunch of liars, but the coroner was left in a quandary. Was the feeding of the biscuits to her baby wilful murder, or was it due to ignorance?" said Norman.

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"Elizabeth's condition could be put down to the amount of liquor she had consumed, but Isabella's condition was something quite different."

"Elizabeth Simpson was being her usual belligerent self, and a battle royal would soon be raging betwixt herself and Dr Watson," said Norman.

He warned Simpson to expect swift justice at the gallows, however, if her daughter's death by convulsions was found to have been sparked by a deliberate action.

"Elizabeth needed Watson's help for her new born daughter, Isabella, who was suffering from a catalogue of health issues and said to be in a highly agitated state."

The first thing Watson noticed on entering the hovel was the strong smell of drink on Elizabeth's breath. This was not unusual, he told a later inquest, in this part of town.

"But Dr Watson contradicted Vans Grey High Tops

Eventually, Coroner Maynard asked the question most people in the jury and watching crowd had been asking themselves: "Why didn't you get some cow's milk instead?"

"How many children have you had?" she was asked."And how many are still living?"

"This was a job for Coroner Crofton Maynard and the police." A few days later, at the Newcastle Arms Public House in Sunderland Street, the jury were sworn in for an official inquest and the sad case of Isabella Simpson unfolded before an astonished crowd.

"One," replied Simpson.

"Because I fed my other children on biscuits," the unrepentant woman answered.

"The coroner as well as everyone else there present let out a collective gasp of astonishment," according to newspaper reports of the case at the time," said Norman.

surely she would have learned Skechers Black Boots by now! Hadn't the learned doctor been convinced that Simpson was quite capable of breast feeding?"

"Indeed, when Coroner Maynard asked about Isabella's diet, Elizabeth claimed she had been unable to produce breast milk, and therefore fed the poor mite on biscuits from birth instead.

"Eight of her children had died in similar circumstances, so Vans Brown Shoes

´╗┐Sunderland woman killed nine newborn babies by feeding them on biscuits

"Elizabeth was nursing her four day old daughter on her knee, and both mother and baby were showing signs of great distress," said Norman, a retired police inspector.

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One old stalwart, Dr Watson, found himself at the centre of a real mystery in August 1885: the case of a woman who was very nearly a serial killer.

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