Evidence Type: Newspaper Report
13 June 1832
To the Editor of THE SYDNEY MONITOR.
I am induced to beg the favour of making the following enquiries, through the medium of your columns, in the hope, that yourself or some of your talented correspondents, may be able to furnish the necessary information. I have to apprise you, that a Coroner’s Inquest was held at the Female Factory on the 9th instant, on the body of a male child,* six weeks old, that had been born within its walls, and whose death, if not occasioned, was accelerated by its being infected with a disease, which delicacy forbids me to name.—The first question I have to ask is—was it the duty of the Medical Officer of this prison, under whose care the deceased was, to have been in attendance to give his evidence before the Inquest? It appeared in evidence, that the mother of the child, who is a married woman, had been infected with the disease alluded to, some time previously to her delivery, and that in consequence of her being enceinte, she did, on her re-admission to the Factory, receive the same medical treatment which other patients, labouring under a similar disease do; that the child appeared healthy at its birth, and for five or six days afterwards; that there then appeared certain indications, that the deceased had become infected with the mother’s disease, and that the mother was allowed to suckle the deceased from its birth up to the time of its death. The question I have now to propose is—is it usual in medical practice, to allow a mother infected with the disease in question, to suckle her infant?
You will doubtless receive or read an account of one of the persons who had been summoned to attend on this Inquest, being refused admission to the Factory, on the ground, of his being connected with the public press, (as a reporter,) and in consequence of such refusal, the Inquest could not then have been held, if one of the servants of the Factory had not been summoned to make up the number necessary to form a Jury; an alternative which was very reluctantly acceded to by the Coroner. Having necessarily extended this letter to a greater length than I feel I have a right to do, with columns of a paper so devoted to the service of the public as the “Monitor,” I beg leave to subscribe myself
Your most obedient humble Servant,
(This question is a very proper one, and we hope will be answered to the proper authorities. The Coroner, in our opinion, is bound to report any thing to the Governor, which, in his official duty, appears to him to be a public wrong, because, like the Sheriff, is an executive as well as a judicial officer. We would here just ask, whether the women who fall with child during their abode in the Factory, ever affiliate their offspring? or whether the officers and visitors of this asylum of chastity, enjoy the society of the females there at the public expense with respect to the consequences of their illicit pleasures? ED.)
* The child was CHARLES DIXON, who died at the Factory and was buried in the parish of St. John’s on 10 June 1832 with a recorded age of 45 days old, which would make the mother ANN DIXON per Grenada (4) (1827). The age and date of burial both appear to accord with CHARLES DIXON. Note that JAMES CONNELL also succumbed to the same disease on 12 June 1832 and the circumstances of his death and inquest were likewise discussed openly in the newspapers.
Female Factory Online (femalefactoryonline.org), “Coronial Inquest: CHARLES DIXON ,” https://femalefactoryonline.org/female-factory-reports/r18320613/, accessed [insert current date].
Burial Register: CHARLES DIXON
See also: ANN DIXON
© Copyright Michaela Ann Cameron 2016