1623: 21 James 1 c.27: To prevent the destroying and murthering of bastard children

1623: 21 James 1 c.27: An Act to prevent the destroying and murthering of bastard children.

WHEREAS many lewd women that have been delivered of bastard children, to avoid their shame, and to escape punishment, do secretly bury or conceal the death of their children, and after, if the child be found dead, the said women do allege, the said child was born dead; whereas it falleth out sometimes (although hardly it is to be proved) that the said child or children were murthered by the said women, their lewd mothers, or by their assent or procurement:

[It shall be murther for a mother to conceal the death of her bastard child.]

II. For the preventing therefore of this great mischief, be it enacted by the authority of this present parliament, That if any woman after one month next ensuing the end of this session of parliament be delivered of any issue of her body, male or female, which being born alive, should by the laws of this realm be a bastard, and that she endeavour privately, either by drowning or secret burying thereof, or any other way, either by her self or the procuring of others, so to conceal the death thereof, as that it may not come to light, whether it were born alive, or not, but be concealed: in every such case the said mother so offending shall suffer death as in case of murther, except such mother can make proof by one witness at the least, that the child (whose death was by her so intended to be concealed) was born dead.

(2) and this act to continue until the end of the first session of the next parliament.

[3 Car. 1. c. 14. Continued until the end of the first session of the next parliament, and farther continued by 16 Car. 1. cap. 4.]

Source: Pickering, Statutes At Large, volume 7.