English Baby Farming

  • The Victorian Era
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

The term ''Baby Farming'' is related to the quasi legal practice of adoption of infant children in Victorian England of the 1870s and 1880. While initially involving the lawful adoption of children (normally by poor women unable to afford their care and health), the practice would quickly devolve into one that found graft and outright murder a more profitable side venture with regards to ''Baby Farming''. The term was seen as an insult leveled at those (mostly women), who went into a Cottage Industry of procuring infants and arranging adoption (or rather sale). In many cases, poor women – unable to care for their child, were so in debt – that ''selling'' their child was seen as more humane than the real and probable death from starvation and disease.


''Farmers'' developed the Con of finding desperate Middle and Upper Class Women, barren of children and not wishing to under go the tedious legal procedures of adoption Farmers would be paid in full for the adoption. Often appearing at the time of birth (of which the birth mother was given a small pre-payment), The Farmer would then ''take'' the baby to it's assumed new home. In this was the more grisly off-shoot of Baby Farming. The procurer would (having been paid), ''get rid of'' the charge with all the care and affection of drowning a bag of unwanted kittens or puppies – they would throw the still living child into The Thames Rivers. The Farmer would announce to the ''purchaser'' that the child died in childbirth. No one would pursue re-payment, due to the illegal nature of the so-called adoption.


The crime became so bad, it was very common for fishermen to bring up their nets choked with the decomposing remains of infants. Police did investigate and several of the more infamous Baby Farmers were arrested and brought to justice eventually. The ''light shone'' on the crime of Baby Farming would cause such an outrage, that – due to reforms in the adoption system (coupled with a sentence of Death if convicted), would end the practice by the 1890s. The highest speculated number of Baby Farmer ''deaths'' was claimed at 400 infants over a 5 year period by Ameila Dryer.