“LADY without encumbrance would like healthy BABY; entire surrender requested; good comfortable home, premium £15 . – Write, Baker, 60 Islington, Liverpool.”
It was just one of a series of different adverts that had been appearing in papers across the country for the past 6 months, placed there by Lottie and Herbert. They used different names and addresses:
Mr and Mrs Isdale, Baker, Smith, Hughes.
When somebody replied – usually a single desperate young women who’d found herself in trouble – the conjuring duo would respond, posing as a married couple unable to have children…more than happy to take the child but for a fee.
Seeing that they had no option the new mothers would hand over their babies and the money.
In February 1907 a young single Devonshire woman gave birth to a baby boy. She responded to one of the adverts.
Lottie using a false name met up with the young mum at Exeter Train Station, convinced her with her usual sob story and the little babe was handed over along with £13 cash. The mum went home.
But Lottie got on a train and headed for Bath. Here they put an advert in the paper. WANTED – Would Kind Lady adopt my baby in perfect health, entire surrender to good home, without premium, or give a few pounds about April. -Write Selwyn, 122 Weston Street, Swansea.
A woman called Mrs Burrell from West Twerton in Bath responded. But she didn’t hear back, until the following Monday, February the 11th, when a pretty young well-dressed woman turned up at her house carrying a baby. The woman promised a weekly payment for maintenance and Mrs Burrell took the child.
But the cash didn’t appear. When it dawned on her that she’d been ‘imposed upon’ she took the baby to the workhouse in Bath.
It’s a story that seemed all too familiar now to the officials there. The assistant clerk, a Mr Glover, who’d seen many similar cases over the past few months, was on the track of the culprits who were now residing in Liverpool on Scotland Road. He gathered all the information he had and passed it to the police there when he heard about the arrests.
Their investigation was going well. It turns out the Lottie and Herbert had been active across the country.
Having found it easy to dispose of the children, by the time they moved to a furnished apartment in Bristol, funded by their exploits, they’d taken babies from mothers in Leeds, Lincoln, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, Wetheridge in Devon, Chester Dewsbury, Chesterfield, Wickham, Worcester, Bath and Wendesfield Staffordshire, Altrincham, Grimsby, Ollerton. They were distributed in many more places, including London, Mold, Neath, Halifax, Sheffield. They left Bristol and continued their work in Belfast before finally heading to Liverpool.
In total the authorities were aware of 20 children they’d trafficked but they believed that in reality the true number was probably much higher…but many mothers were unwilling to tell their story let alone stand up in court and tell the world how they’d given up their children. In Belfast the police found this an even harder nut to crack.
A date for the trial was set and the country waited for what would surely be an open and shut case. But the hunt for baby Kitching from Grimsby was still underway.
So what would happen at the trial? Well find out in part 3 – when Lottie and Herbert come face to face the child that inspired their awful crimes.
The full radio story is available on SOUNDCLOUD
Sources: Pictures from Workhouse.ORG website
Train picture – english-guy on ebay