Amelia was born Amelia Elizabeth Hobley on Oct 1837 in Clifton, Gloucestershire, England She was the youngest of 5 children to Samuel Habley 1798-1859 & Sarah Weymouth 1806-1848.
She was a very bright child learning to read and write at a young age.
Her mother Sarah contracted Typhus ( is a disease caused by an infection with the Rickettsia bacteria. Fleas, mites (chiggers), lice, or ticks transmit it when they bite you. Fleas, mites, lice, and ticks are types of invertebrate animals known as arthropods). She would have fits of rage.
After her mother death in 1848, she went to Bristol to live with her Aunt. While there she received her apprenticeship with a corset maker. Then her father passed away in 1859. Her brother Thomas received the family shoemaker business. During this time she became estranged from one of her brothers and about 1861 when she was 24 years old she met and married 59 year old George Thomas. They both lied about their ages on the marriage license.
She started training as a nurse and used their home for unmarried mothers who wanted to farm off their unwanted babies, which there seemed to be plenty of, as well as plenty of families that wanted the babies. By the way, this is against the law even back then.
Mothers would leave their unwanted babies to be looked after as "Nurse Children"
These young women were often exploited for financial gain; if a baby had well-off parents who were simply anxious to keep the fact secret that they had given birth to a baby. The single fee for the full transaction might be £80 but may be dropped to £50 if that is all the woman could afford. Should the particular mother be poor than £5 would be the cost, even then the poor mother might struggle to find that sum? Sometimes the women would go out and suffer the humiliation of becoming a prostitute just to raise the cash that was needed. That certainly wasn’t an easy decision for these girls to make. They had to be careful they didn’t become pregnant again.
During her time as a nurse, she became friendly with a midwife, Ellen Dane and learned an easier life which had larger rewards. There were a number of unscrupulous careers who resorted to starving these little babies in order to save money and even to hasten death. Noisy or demanding babies could be sedated with easily-available alcohol. This was known as ‘Mother’s little friend.’ It was a syrup containing opium but there were several other similar types of sedation cocktails.
So she started to take in expectant women on the verge of giving birth. She also decided that she would advertise to nurse and adopt a baby, in return, for a substantial one-off payment and adequate clothing for the child. They would be very well looked after. In her adverts and meetings with clients, she assured them that she was a very responsible, married and that she would provide a safe and loving home for the child.
She was arrested and taken to court but instead of being convicted for murder or manslaughter, she was convicted of child neglect. She was sentenced by the Judge to six month’s hard labour for the neglect. The experience allegedly almost destroyed her mentally, though others have expressed incredulity at the leniency of the sentence when compared to lesser crimes handed out for lesser crimes at that time.
|In the Central Police Court to-day the case in which Annie Batten (70), a widow was charged with having caused the death of Ethel May Perry on October 21, 1902.|
|Amelia's letters of confession and a lock of hair. By kind permission of Ken Wells – Curator of the Thames Valley Police Museum, Sulhamstead, England|
She murdered 300 babies and was charged with only 2 murders.