HC Deb 26 May 1871 vol 206 cc1325-6

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether Mrs. Ingham, who was tried at Derby Assizes in July 1869 for the murder of her child, and acquitted on the ground of puerperal insanity, has been certified by the medical officer of Derby County Gaol to have become perfectly sane within a few days of her trial; whether the visiting justices have, on the strength of this medical certificate, twice applied for her discharge; whether, in answer to their last application on the 4th of April 1871, they were informed that if her health was suffering she might be received into a Criminal Lunatic Asylum; and, whether, if this is the case, he does not think such a course would be likely still more seriously to injure the health of a sane woman, and if he will be good enough to state to the House on what grounds he does not feel justified in granting her discharge after her recovery has lasted for twenty-two months?


, in reply, said, that these cases, as hon. Members could easily imagine, were extremely difficult to decide. The facts, however, were not exactly as stated in the hon. Member's Question, for Mrs. Ingham was not acquitted on the ground of puerperal insanity. After apparently a fit of extreme depression she cut the throat of her child, ten months old, and on her trial she was acquitted on the ground of insanity. It was no doubt true that she had been certified to be sane; but Mrs. Ingham had another child, only three years of age, and it was quite possible that if she were released another fit of depression might occur, and the life of the remaining child might be endangered. All these circumstances had to be taken into consideration by a Minister in deciding a question of this nature, and he should be departing from the practice of his predecessors if he were hastily to order her release after a short confinement.