The Midwife of Poplar's Sorrowful Confession and Lamentation in Newgate

Title

The Midwife of Poplar's Sorrowful Confession and Lamentation in Newgate

Subtitle

Who was Condemned to Dye for that Horrid and Unheard of Murder, which she committed on the Bodys of several young infants, whom she Starved to Death, and was accordingly Executed for the same in Holbourn, upon the 23d. of this instant October, 1693.

Synopsis

Mary Compton was found guilty of the murders of several children, some her own, some she was paid by the churchwardens to take in. Her maid was acquitted, as she knew nothing of the dead children (in the cellar) and was left with only cheese to feed the babies. Ann Davis was convicted of being an accessory to the murders and was burned in the hand.

Digital Object

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads 2.192; EBBA 20807

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Transcription

I Am the worst of Women-kind,
Compton it is my Name,
I was to Cruelty inclin'd, and do Repent the same,
But Oh! I wish I ne're had done that wicked deed, for why,
My Thread of Life is almost spun, now I'm Condemn'd to dye.

In Poplar near fair London Town, 'twas there that I did dwell,
My Murders calls just Vengeance down, for they do far excel
The worst of Villains in the Land, as e'ery one may own,
The very truth to understand would melt a heart of stone.

For three and thirty years ago, I Midwife did begin,
And of late years assurely know, I have been murdering;
Sweet Infants from their Mothers Womb, Oh! wretched Creature, I
Starving did make their Dismal Doom, for which I now must dye.

My maid and I did go from Home, as being not afraid,
And left three Children all alone, thus was I then betray'd,
A little Boy and Girl I left,
to Nurse an infant young,
Who was of life almost bereft, thus I the Babes did wrong.

I left none but Water and Cheese, to feed the Babe that cry'd,
At which sad grief did greatly seize Neighbours on e'ery side,
The Boy he told unto them then, that they might find two more,
Young Infants in a basket dead, upon a shelf below.

This sight did much amaze them all,
so soon as they were found,
Vermin did there about them craul, as they lay above ground,
Then they dug up the Cellar floor, directed by the Boy,
And there they found two or three more,
all which I did destroy.

The Babe that in the Cradle lay, did cry for Nourishment,
They put it out to Nurse straightway, who soon to dress it went,
And as she took the Linnen off to dress it unto bed,
The very Ears were rotted off from this poor Infants head.

O Cruel Wretch, what shall I do, a Monster to all good,
That could my bloody hands imbrew in little Infants blood,
How could I slumber Night or Day, or take one wink of rest,
While pritty Murther'd Infants lay, which might my sleep molest.

But I alas! was Seiz'd at last, and unto Justice brought,
And as along the Streets I past, I was with passion fraught,
I at my Tryal did appear, and am Condemn'd to dye,
The Laws cannot be too severe for such a Wretch as I.

And I account e're long must give, of my Offenses here,
Unto that great and mighty Judge, who will e're long appear,
How shall I look him in the face, or from his presence fly,
I have quite spent my day of Grace, who am Condemn'd to dye.

Crime(s)

murder

Gender

Date

Execution Location

Holborn

Printing Location

Printed for J. Bissel, at the Bible and Harp in West-Smith-Field.

Files

PepysC_2_192_2448x2448.jpg

Citation

“The Midwife of Poplar's Sorrowful Confession and Lamentation in Newgate ,” Execution Ballads, accessed October 29, 2021, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/execution-ballads/items/show/947.