Prison Baby’s Fate, 1905

A sad story was told in the Hamilton Sheriff Court on Wednesday 7th June 1905, when Jane Mitchell or Dickson, wife of a Blantyre miner, residing at Craighead Rows, was charged with neglecting her four months old child.

The woman was sent to prison for six months in September the previous year, and while she was there the chid was born. She did well for a time after being liberated; but ultimately gave way to drink, and on May 31st, when her husband came home from the pit, she was not to be found.

The baby was crying. There was no food in the house, and he had to pawn his pit boots to buy a bottle to feed the baby. The mother returned home late in the evening drunk and was put to bed, and the baby given to a young daughter, sleeping at the foot of the bed.

The baby was found in the morning dead, having evidently been overlaid by blankets. Mrs Dickson was sent to prison for a further four months.

Wanting to try and find out more, particularly the baby’s name, I searched records and immediately realised this wasn’t going to be quite as simple as i thought. Not merely a case of looking for all baby’s under one who died in Blantyre in 1905. There were sadly 169 of them!

However, I found the correct baby and paid to retrieve the death certificate. Little William Dickson, 3 months old was discovered at 4.30am on the morning of 1st June 1905. Tellingly, the death certificate was signed by the father, presumably because the mother was in prison. William Dickson is remembered here.

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