Ivanhoe Ashby de la Zouch U3A Group Logo

Monthly Meetings

We meet at 2 pm on the fourth Tuesday of the month at the Congregational Church, Kilwardby St, Ashby.
There is normally a guest speaker or, in December, musical entertainment.
This is followed by tea, coffee and biscuits and a chance to meet and talk with other members.

Future programme
DateSpecial EventsSpeakerSubject

Tue 23rd OctAlan Gray'You cannot be serious' - an ex-Wimbledon umpire
Tue 27th NovRoger HailwoodThe National Memorial Arboretum
Tue 11th DecChristmas EventTBAMusical entertainment
Tue 22nd JanJohn WinterIntercare - Medical Aid to Africa
Tue 26th FebWilliam J FrenchA Butler to Royalty
Tue 26th MarRalph Jerram The history of Desert Island Discs
Tue 23rd AprPaul Newsham

Tea Rota, Meeters & Greeters, Reporting Groups

MonthTea GroupMeet & GreetReporting Groups
Tue 23rd OctJean Preece, Brenda Dummer, Cynthia Wells and Sandra FoxMike Stow & Trev ReedWalking and Arts & Crafts
Tue 27th NovJenny & Pete Slawson, Bridget & Jim FairwayPete & Jenny SlawsonBird Watching & Bridge
Tue 11th DecThe CommitteeThe CommitteeNo groups reporting

25th September
The Baby Killer and the Thief

Ann Featherstone recounted to us all two quite separate and true stories set in Victorian England. Ann's background is that she is a retired university lecturer as well as a writer. Ann has written non-fiction books and is a historical novelist with two published books to her name. Ann's particular interest is the 19th century. Ann has appeared on the 'One Show' TV programme and on the BBC in documentaries about fairs and circuses.

The first story that Ann related to us was about a young unmarried domestic servant who at a young age found herself to be pregnant. In Victorian England this was all too common but of course quite often led to the unfortunate girl becoming a social outcast. The young lady in this story concealed her pregnancy from everyone around her and moved jobs 3 times in a matter of months in order to do so. The girl then gave birth to a child in secret in the privy behind where she lived. The child being dead was wrapped in cloths and it's body hidden in a tin in the corner of a pig sty.

The body was found some months later in a state of advanced decomposition which led to the arrest of the girl and a police investigation. The girl was later charged with two counts, the first being that of murdering the child and the second being the offence of concealing the birth. Had the girl been found guilty on the first count then she would have been sent to the gallows.

The outcome of the case was that the judge found insufficient evidence that the child was alive at the time of the birth and subsequently killed despite the fact that the girl admitted to cutting the baby's throat with a knife. Consequently she was acquitted of the murder charge but sentenced to 18 months hard labour on the second count of which she was patently guilty.

The second story that we heard about involved a 16 year old boy from Nottinghamshire. He stole his employer's silver watch and then took it to a pawn broker to see how much he could get for it. The pawn broker being suspicious of the boy contacted the police and the boy was later charged with the theft of the watch. At the trial the judge sentenced the boy to 7 years deportation to the colonies.

Ann explained to us that children so sentenced had often to live on board prison hulk ships until either they were old enough to be sent to the colonies or until a suitable ship arrived to transport them. This boy spent a whole year on board such a ship in very squalid conditions before being taken to Australia. Once there he was given to an English business man as effectively a slave for the duration of his sentence.

All records of what happened to him after that are lost save for a single letter sent back to his parents sometime later. This letter told how 'freed' transportees ( freedom was gained once the sentence had been served and a Certificate of Freedom given to the transportee to prove the fact) could earn good wages and urged his parents to consider joining him in Australia. Unfortunately his father died shortly after and Ann could find no further trace of the lad or his mother.

Ann's two stories had us all sitting on the edges of our seats in disbelief at the cruelty shown to these unfortunate children for whom we could not help but feel sorry despite the crimes that had been committed.