Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

Monstrous Births

18 October 1718   One Mrs Frame, a Horse-Courser's Wife, lately living in Barbican, being afflicted with a Tympany [swelling or tumour], for which she was tapt, and at two tappings had 16 Gallons of Water let out of her, she thought when the Disease first came upon her about 11 Years ago, that she was with Child, and would not be perswaded to the contrary ever since, tho' the Extremity of her Infirmity had caus'd her to swell to a most prodigious bulk and therefore just before she died, which was one Day this Week, at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, she earnestly desired to be open'd, and accordingly when the Chyrurgeons had made an Incision of her Womb, they found therein the Skeleton of a Child, the Bones whereof were knitted together in their due Proportion, but all the Flesh thereof is suppos'd to be perisht and consum'd by its Emersion in so much Water. (Weekly Journal, or British Gazetteer)

Saturday 15 November 1718   We have an account from Monmouth, that within six miles of that town lives a female child of four years of age, fourteen hands high, and all parts proportionable. ’Tis said fifty guineas had been offrered to the parents for the said child, to carry out the kingdom for a shew; but they looking upon it as a crime, notwithstanding they were poor, rejected the proposal. (Weekly Journal, or, Saturday’s-Post)

14 February 1719   On Tuesday night came in a French Mail, which brought nothing remarkable, except that a woman, a mile and a half from Colme, was brought to bed of three children, two daughters and a son, with four arms each, and that the boy spoke coming into the world, and hath since spoke to several people. Abundance of both sexes flock to see this prodigy of nature. (Original Weekly Journal)

16-23 July 1720   We have a very odd creature here, like a man in shape, but covered like a bear; they tell us he came from Ireland, where he lived till he was twenty years old, and run wild in the woods: All the parts of his body are over grown with long black hair, which they having stiffened and rubbed backwards makes him look very deliciously it seems, and the women go in shoals to see him. They shew him for two-pence a piece, and an innumerable many customers they have had; but as they expose him no lower than his waste, their trade begins to fail them, and the females curiosity to abate. (London Journal)

24 February 1722   The 27th of last month, a woman in Croyden was laid of a monstrous birth, by Mr. John Burn, an eminent surgeon in that place, viz. Two children (both boys) growing together, or having but one body from the lower part of the neck to the upper part of the belly, but the 2 heads, 2 necks, and 8 limbs, and all the other parts compleat and full grown; she went out her full time, the children dead, but the mother like to do well. (Applebee’s Original Weekly Journal)

30 April 1726   Sutton Benger in Wiltshire, April 23. Some Days ago a Woman, lately married, of upwards of 40 Years of Age, in this Parish, was deliver'd at a Birth of five Children, three of them alive, who were all brought together to the Font to be christen'd: What's to be remark'd of this Woman, is, that she frequently, in her Maiden State, express'd her Dislike to a Litter of Brats, as she term'd it, and gave it as a Reason for her not marrying till she apprehended herself out of Danger of fulfilling that Command, Encrease and Multiply. (Mist's Weekly Journal)

30 November 1728   The wild Youth brought some time ago from Germany, who has been at Board in Hertfordshire is arriv'd in Town, and they say has been this Week at the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields. (The Flying-Post)

27 March 1735   On Thursday last a live worm was extracted from the leg of a patient in St. Thomas's Hospital near a yard long. The person was a sailor on board one of the ships lately returned from the East-Indies, was brought to the Hospital on Wednesday last, and is still in a miserable condition. 'Tis believed that these creatures are produced from certain animalcula, with which the water of some part of the Indies abounds, and which is generally seeth'd [i.e. sieved] by the Inhabitants before use, to prevent the inconveniencies it otherwise occasions. The man has several worms still remaining in his legs. (The Old Whig: or, The Consistent Protestant)

7 July 1736   Last Friday se'nnight ... the wife of one John Colman, of Little Glemham in Suffolk, was deliver'd of a child with two heads, four ears, four eyes, two arms, having another coming out at its breast, three legs and feet, the middle foot six toes, and the middle toe the longest. (Daily Gazetteer)



(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Monstrous Births", 26 July 2004, updated 10 April 2007 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/monsters.htm>

Return to list of Newspaper Reports