Unsolved Murders


Age: 0

Sex: male

Date: 17 Dec 1905

Place: Matthews Wood, Lingfield

The body of a newly-born child was found in Matthew's Wood in Lingfield on Sunday 17 December 1905 at about 2pm.

The child’s body was found doubled up in a very small box amongst the undergrowth of Matthew's Wood. It was found by a carter who had lived in Doggett's Cottages in Lingfield as he was walking along a private road belonging to the Racecourse Estate. He said that he entered the wood at about 2pm and that shortly after he noticed the parcel, noting that it was not concealed at all.

The carter said that he then saw a gentleman a few yards away and called to him and that he then came over and cut the string that had fastened the box which was covered with brown paper which he then unfastened and found a wooden box inside. He said that he didn't notice a lid, saying that if there was one then it had not been nailed on as when he removed the paper he then saw the body of the child.

He said that the information was then at once conveyed to the police.

It was thought that the package had not been lying there for very long.

It was noted that the distance to the footpath from where the package was found was about 100 yards but that the distance from the road where the carter had come from to the spot where the parcel was found was only 15 yards.

The carter said that he had been to the same spot the previous day but had not noticed the parcel then, although he agreed that it was quite possible that it was there, and he had not noticed it.

A policeman that when to the scene said that before he went along the footpath, he examined it and found slight impressions that he believed to be impressions made by a woman’s boot.

He said that the child’s body had been wrapped up in a Lloyds Newspaper but found nothing in the wrappings or on the body to help in identifying the child.

The policeman noted that the ground was wet where the box had been found but said that the package was not itself very wet, leading him to think that it had not been there for very long.

It was noted that the box itself was about 10in long, 7in wide and 4in deep and that the child had had to be doubled up to fit inside.

He said that when he carried out the post-mortem he found that the child's right shoulder was bruised and that the child’s face and lips were very dark and livid, but that the rest of the body was a very healthy colour. He said that the body was that of a full-term child and had weighed about 7lbs 6oz. He said that there was a rather extensive bruise on the forehead, but no fracture to the skull nor any other portion of the body. He noted that the child’s lungs were fully inflated. He said that all the organs of the body were healthy, and that the child's heart was still full of blood which indicated that it had performed its proper action. He added that there was nothing in the child's stomach but said that its bowels contained some meconium.

He concluded that the child had lived and had had a separate existence and that it had probably been suffocated noting that he had formed that opinion due to the difference in colour of the head, neck and lips as compared to the rest of the child's body.

He said that he didn't think that the child was more than four days old and more likely only two days and that at the time of his examination that the child had been dead for at least one day, and possibly three or four.

The jury returned an open verdict.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser - Saturday 23 December 1905

see Surrey Mirror - Friday 22 December 1905