HER employer could not fail to notice the teenager she had hired as a maid looked "very heavy" in appearance.

But when Amy Cotterell mentioned the matter to Winnie Burley, she calmly replied: "It runs in the family, my mother weighed 18 stone."

In reality, the 19-year-old was in the family way.

Tragically when the baby was born, it was dead and she stuffed it into the stove at her parent's home.

Several calcified bones formed the principal exhibit at Eastleigh magistrates court on July 8, 1931, when Burley was charged with concealment of birth.

Albert May, a pick and shovel man employed by the local council, told the court they had been going out for three years and had been engaged for about 18 months when she confided she was in "a certain condition".

As they travelled by train between Eastleigh and Southampton, she told him "we shall soon have to do something about it" and he agreed to meet her father the next time he saw him.

The following morning, Burley brought a cup of tea to Mrs Cotterell but then said she didn't feel very well. Mrs Cotterell told her to go to bed and called the doctor who arrived within the hour.

Dr R S Swindell reported the maid as being calm and collected, answering all his questioned without hesitation. But when he examined her, he quickly realised she had just given birth and advised her to go to hospital but she refused.

Instead she was taken by ambulance to her parents home in Eastleigh where she was seen by another doctor who confirmed she had been delivered of a baby within the last 24 hours.

"Where is the child?" Dr A B Wallace asked.

"I have burned it in the stove at my employer's."


"Because it was born dead."

The doctor notified the police and at about 5pm Dc King accompanied by police surgeon Dr G R Seagar went to Mrs Cotterell's home where "debris" in the grate and ash tray was sorted.

Matters then lay in abeyance until July 2 when she was arrested and charged.

Dr Seagar told magistrates he examined embers taken from the stove and found they contained bones and portions of bones.

"In my opinion, the bones are of of the human foetus of no less than six months gestation."

Burley pleaded guilty and was committed for sentence at Hampshire Assizes on bail, appearing before Mr Justice Roche less than a week later on July 14.

On her behalf, Mr Ingle said she accepted she had tried to conceal the birth.

"She has been walking out with a man who wishes to marry her. At the time he was out of work and unable to do so."

The judge asked: "Is that the position now?"

The barrister replied; "I believe the position now is that the young man's father has offered to give him and the accused a house to live in and to find him work."

The judge commented: "That is very satisfactory. I should take that as a consideration when I decide what to do. Without being able to vouch that, are you satisfied that is the man's real intention?"

Ingle concurred, adding; "I wish you to consider what the girl's emotions were in her distress when she saw the child was dead. She thought the best thing to do was to dispose of the body and it would not have been in her mind that she was committing a crime."

The judge said he would consider the mitigation and sentence Burley the following week, remanding her in custody in the interim.

She came back before the judge six days later when she was bound over.

"As you have been in prison for some days, you will have had time to think things over."