Categories: Bristol, Gloucestershire | This Day In History June 10 | Newgate Prison | Nurses | Death by Hanging-England | Serial Killers of the 19th Century | Murderers | Black Sheep Unconnected Profiles | Profile of the Week Winners.
Amelia Dyer was the most prolific baby farm murderer of Victorian England. She was tried and hanged for one murder, but there is little doubt she was responsible for many more similar deaths—possibly 400 or more—over a period of perhaps twenty years.
Amelia's father was a master cordwainer, thus the family was prosperous enough for the children to learn to read and write. Although the young Amelia developed a passion for literature and poetry her childhood was somewhat marred by her mother's mental illness, caused by typhus. On many occasions Amelia was witness to her mother's violent rages and often had to care for her. 
Amelia was 10 years old when her mother died in 1848. She went to live with an aunt shortly after. During this time she trained as a Corset Maker and in 1861 she moved into lodgings where she met the 59 year old George Thomas whom she married in 1861.
A few years into her marriage, Amelia trained to be a nurse and became acquainted with a midwife, Ellen Dane. It was Ellen who informed her of an easier way to make money. This involved taking women into her home who had conceived illegitimately during the later stages of their pregnancy and then farming off their babies for adoption. For this she would be well paid. There was also the option of nursing or adopting a baby for a one off payment. In both instances the babies were left to die from neglect and malnutrition.
This information must have stayed with Amelia because following the birth of her own daughter, Ellen Thomas and the death of her husband in 1869, she left nursing and needed to find another way to make money. The industry she chose was baby farming.
On December 21, 1872 Amelia married William Dyer, a brewers Laborer from Bristol. The couple had two children together, Mary Ann , known as Polly and William Samuel. It is believed there where other children who didn't survive infancy. Eventually Amelia left her husband.
Amelia once again turned to baby farming and in 1879, after a doctor had tipped of authorities about 4 baby deaths in the space of two weeks, she received a six month prison sentence for child neglect. If anything this only taught her that she shouldn't leave a paper trail. She started to get rid of the bodies herself.
To avoid detection Amelia remained constantly on the move taking on many aliases to retain her anonymity. She was receiving up to six babies a day. Some mothers came back to claim their children but Amelia had already gone and their children were no more.
Amelia also had many confinements in mental institutions. Whether these episodes were genuine, caused by her substance abuse or an act is not known. But her breakdowns tended to happen after the authorities or parents had been poking around for information on the children.
Amelia placed adverts in newspapers advertising that a married couple would adopt children for a fee of £10. Evelina Marmon saw one such advert after she had purchased the newspaper to see if her own advert, requesting for a family to take her child, had been included.
Evelina replied to the advert placed by Mrs Harding, one of Amelia's aliases. The two ladies met up on March 31, 1896 and after paying the £10 fee Amelia left with baby Doris in her care. The next day she took in another child, Harry Simmons.
Prior to this on March 30, a bargeman had fished a packet out of the Thames, inside where the remains of a child, Helena Fry. An important clue was found by police on the brown paper that Helena had been wrapped in. The address of a Mrs Thomas. Another of Amelia's aliases. 
After the discovery of Helena Fry the police searched the river. Two more tiny bodies were found. Doris Marmon aged 4 months, and Harry Simmons, aged 13 months. In all the corpses of 7 babies where found in the Thames. All killed by strangulation.
Amelia was arrested on April 4, 1896 and charged with murder. Her son in law Arthur Palmer was also arrested and charged with being an accessory. He was later discharged as the result of a confession written by Amelia when she was in Reading goal. (with her own spelling and punctuation preserved)
Sir will you kindly grant me the favour of presenting this to the magistrates on Saturday the 18th instant I have made this statement out, for I may not have the opportunity then I must relieve my mind I do know and I feel my days are numbered on this earth but I do feel it is an awful thing drawing innocent people into trouble I do know I shal have to answer before my Maker in Heaven for the awful crimes I have committed but as God Almighty is my judge in Heaven a on Hearth neither my daughter Mary Ann Palmer nor her husband Alfred Ernest Palmer I do most solemnly declare neither of them had any thing at all to do with it, they never knew I contemplated doing such a wicked thing until it was to late I am speaking the truth and nothing but the truth as I hope to be forgiven, I myself and I alone must stand before my Maker in Heaven to give an answer for it all witnes my hand Amelia Dyer. —April 16, 1896
May 18, 1896 Amelia's trial began at the Old Bailey and continued until May 22. The verdict was guilt, she was sentenced to death by hanging.  On Wednesday June 10, 1896 she was hanged by James Billington at Newgate Prison.
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On 27 Mar 2018 at 09:14 GMT Laura Rose Carter wrote:
Amelia Dyer, The Baby Farmer https://youtu.be/YYO0yzh2BD0
On 1 Jun 2016 at 13:14 GMT Amy (F) W wrote:
On 7 Dec 2014 at 15:17 GMT Paula J wrote:
On 14 Jun 2014 at 01:32 GMT Robin Kabrich wrote:
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On 2 Jun 2014 at 07:06 GMT Terry Wright wrote: