In Memory of all those stillborn, unbaptised infants who lie buried in St David’s Cemetery.

In June 1863, the body of a still born male child, hidden by its mother for three days – wrapped up in newspaper, was buried in St David’s cemetery Carmarthen in an unmarked grave. Servant girl – Eliza Richards was six months pregnant when she gave birth to the boy but concealed his body in the fireplace of her bedroom. Here then is the brief story of a really sad and tragic event. The youngster as far as I can ascertain was never given a name. May he rest in peace. This is the 50th story to be published under the “What’s in a Name” series on this website and ironically there is no name to speak of in this instance. However, the Cross of Souls memorial to be unveiled and consecrated on Monday 21st June will finally address the matter of all those who have been buried at St David’s that have no known grave or memorial. This then – the 50th story on the eve of the consecration is probably the most poignant one that I have so far been able to publish, and in some ways the most important story of all. He may not have had a name, he was born prematurely but never survived and was buried unbaptised without ceremony, but most importantly of all he will finally be remembered for all time on 21st June. God rest his soul.

On Wednesday 19th June 1863 an inquest was held at the Shire Hall, before J. Hughes, Esq., coroner, on the body of a new born male child, which was found under the following circumstances Jane Davies, wife of John Davies, Friars’ Park, said “I am a charwoman. I go out regularly when required I have been accustomed to go to the house of Mr. Benjamin Thomas, in Lammas-street, for the last nine years. I do not go there regularly since they keep a servant. I was there last Monday, about eight in the morning. I had heard outside that the servant girl had been pregnant. The servant’s name is Eliza or Elizabeth Richards. She was in the house on Monday, in bed, when I went there. I was told before I went there that the girl was ill. When I first went to the house I saw James Thomas, in the back yard. James Thomas is the youngest son of Mr. Benjamin Thomas, and lives with his father. I asked him what was the matter with Eliza, the servant girl. He told me she had had a child, and that he wished me to tell them about it in the house, because he could not do so. He did not tell me when the child was born. Nothing else was said at that time. I next went upstairs to Eliza Richards, and found her in bed. I asked her if she had had a child, and she said “No,” very slowly. I then went down and told James Thomas what she had said. He sent me upstairs again and told me to ask her for the child. He did not tell me at that time where the child was. I went upstairs the second time, and found Eliza Richards in the same room, but partly dressed. I asked her to give me the child, and she gave it to me. She was standing by the fireplace. She pushed the fire screen back, and took the child out from the fireplace and gave it to me. The child was packed up in a newspaper. That was the child which was afterwards given up to the police, and the one now seen by the jury. No conversation took place between Eliza Richards and myself at that time. I gave the child back to her, and I then went down to the kitchen. I said nothing at that time; but in a few hours afterwards I told Miss Thomas, James Thomas’s sister, that Eliza Richards had had a child. She asked me how did I know. She was in a shocking way about it. I told her I knew where it was. She did not believe me at first, but when she found I was in earnest she immediately sent for Mr. Rowlands, surgeon. I was present when Mr. Rowlands came. I took the child from by the side of the fireplace in Eliza Richards’s bedroom and brought it to Mr. Rowlands into another room. It was then wrapped up in a newspaper. It was in the same place as she had put it in the afternoon when I returned it to her. Mr. Rowlands opened the package when I gave it to him. I did not open it when Eliza Richards gave it to me. There was a dead child in the package. There was also a chamber utensil in the fireplace packed up in a bundle. It contained blood, &c. Eliza Richards was in bed when I brought those things out from her room. We had no conversation then I again saw Eliza Richards in the evening, and she told me the child was born on the previous Thursday. She said nothing more about it” By the Jury …. “Was the package was wrapped up and tied”? David Williams, police-sergeant, said “I had the body of a dead child given me at the house of Benjamin Thomas, last night, by the last witness. I opened the package and examined the contents. I conveyed the child to Mr. Rowland’s surgery, and handed it over to Mr. Rowlands.” Mr. James Rowlands, surgeon, examined: “On, Monday I went to the house of Benjamin Thomas, in Lammas-street, between seven and eight o’clock in the evening. Jane Davies, the witness, brought me a bundle, which I opened. It contained a dead child wrapped up in a newspaper, and under the child was a calico chemise, covered with blood, and under that a chamber utensil containing some fluid blood, &c. I wrapped them up again. I cursorily examined the dead child and the contents of the chamber utensil, and packed them up again. That child was brought to my surgery last night about half-past 7 o’clock by the police sergeant. It was packed up in the same newspaper. I made an examination of the body this morning. It was a male child, and seemed to have been dead two or three days. It was free from decomposition. Its weight was 1 lb. 8 ozs and was 13  inches long. The body appeared flattened from side to side, as if compressed. The head was covered with silvery hair about quarter of an inch long. I am of opinion the child was about six months old – that is, it was born three months before its proper time. I do not know the cause of death. I cannot undertake to say that the child was born alive.-The jury, after consulting for a few minutes, said they were unanimously of opinion that the child was still-born, Verdict- ” Still-born and found dead.”

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