The Ogress of Reading

SOLEMNLY SWORN
AN EYE FOR AN EYE

OVERSEAS EDITION

The Trial and Execution of Amelia Dyer

This episode comes at the request of a listener across the great pond in the United Kingdom.

We will be exploring the testimony from the trial of Amelia Dyer, who would take in infants and toddlers for adoption for a fee, and then murder the poor children for the profit.

She is said to have once referred to herself as an angel maker. I’ve seen estimates of her carnage at as many as 400 young souls, but she was formally convicted on only one count.

But that was enough for her to pay the ultimate price.

By the way, 10 pounds in 1896 would be 1,190 pounds in 2016, adjusting for inflation, and in current conversion rates, 1,190 pounds is a bit more than $1,500 at the time of this broadcast.
fig-1-pelisse-with-sleeves-and-cape

Vocabulary Word: pelisse

It comes from the Latin for a garment of fur, but in this case referred to a long, loose outer coat made for infants.

 

Mrs. Dyer, The Baby Farmer

(folk song)

 

The old baby farmer has been executed,
It’s quite time that she was put out of the way,
She was a bad woman, it is not disputed,
Not a word in her favour can anyone say.
That old baby farmer the wretch Mrs Dyer,
At the Old Bailey her wages is paid,
In times long ago we’d have made a big fire,
And roasted so nicely that wicked old jade.
It seems rather hard to run down a woman,
But this one was hardly a woman at all,
To make a fine living in ways so inhuman,
Carousing in comfort on poor girls’ downfall.
Poor girls who fell down from the straight path of virtue,
What could they do with a child in their arms?
The fault they committed they could not undo,
So the baby was sent to the cruel baby farm.
That old baby farmer the wretch Mrs Dyer,
At the Old Bailey her wages is paid,
In times long ago we’d have made a big fire,
And roasted so nicely that wicked old jade.
To all these sad crimes there must be an ending,
Secrets like these forever can’t last,
Say as you like, there is no defending,
The horrible tales we have heard in the past.
It seems really awful how her heart could harden,
For when the Bow Street Law Officers came,
They found twenty little bodies a-buried in the garden, And one or two more down the old kitchen drain.
What did she think as she stood on the gallows?
Poor little victims in front of her eyes,
Her heart, if she had one, must have been callous,
The rope round her neck – how quickly time flies.
That old baby farmer the wretch Mrs Dyer,
At the Old Bailey her wages is paid,
In times long ago we’d have made a big fire,
And roasted so nicely that wicked old jade.
Down through the trapdoor quick disappearing,
The old baby farmer has come to her harm,
The sound of her own death bell’s toll she was hearing,
Maybe she went to the cruel baby farm!

 

Clips:

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