Amelia Dyer: The baby farmer who brutally killed over 400 babies

Everything about Amelia Dyer: The baby farmer

Amelia Dyer

What is Baby Farming?

Even the most protected among us have heard terrible stories about foster care and adoption, although orphanages existed before there were government entities to look after the wards of the state. And even before the orphanages, there was ‘Baby Farming.’

During the Victorian era, the practise of accepting custody of unwanted children or those whose parents were unable to care for them in exchange for a nominal fee came to be known as “baby farming.” A baby farm was essentially a for-profit orphanage. Although it was also common in North America and Oceania, baby farming was particularly prevalent in late Victorian era urban parts of England.

Amelia Dyer: The Baby Farmer

Amelia Dyer offered young, unmarried mothers a solution to their “problem”

Dyer, a baby farmer in Victorian England, was executed in 1896 for just one murder, despite the fact that there is little uncertainty that she is also accountable for many murders. . . Many many more.

Amelia Dyer is suspected of killing hundreds of infants (400+) in the 19th century. Her offences sparked one of the most dramatic prosecutions of the time and brought Victorian practice “baby farming”  to national attention.

Her offences sparked one of the most dramatic prosecutions of the time and brought Victorian practice “baby farming”  to national attention. But how could a woman, that too a nurse, who seemed respectable fall to such brutality?

How was the crime revealed ?

Amelia Dyer

A package weighed down with a brick was pulled from River Thames on March 30, 1896.

The body of infant Helena Fry was inside, wrapped in layers of linen, newspaper, and brown paper. Her neck was tied in white tape, with a knot made under the left ear.

It was a horrific discovery, but one that helped authorities reveal the crimes of one of the most notorious child murderers of the 19th century.


Dyer, born in 1837 to a shoemaker in a little Bristol village, was the sole caregiver for her mentally ill mother and had undergone a very difficult childhood.

She first received training as a nurse and a midwife before transitioning into the lucrative Victorian-era English industry of ‘Baby Farming’ in the 1860s.

However, Dyer chose to pursue a baby farming career doing the exact opposite rather than using her expertise to care for people.

Under the pretence that the child would be cared for, Baby Farming was practised, but often these kids were abused or even killed. Clients received assurances from Ms. Amelia Dyer that the kids in her care would have a loving and secure home.

How did Amelia Dyer commit these crimes?

Dyer travelled from her homes in Bristol and Reading to locations as far away as Liverpool and Plymouth, charging between £10 and £80 for her services, which today would be equivalent to between £1,200 and £10,000.

At first, Dyer would leave the kids die from starvation. These children were starved and given “Mother’s Friend,” an opium-laced syrup, to keep them quiet. Dyer eventually started carrying out killings more quickly, which enabled her to boost her profit. For years, Dyer evaded capture, but in 1879, doctors’ suspicion about the number of fatalities registered under her care caused her luck to run out suddenly. Dyer was surprisingly just charged with neglect and given a 6-month hard labour sentence.

What went wrong?

Dyer learned from her conviction and upon her release, Dyer changed her modus operandi.  To avoid being caught, when she started baby farming, s he started using aliases and regularly relocated. In order to reduce any additional risk, she also started disposing off the bodies herself without notifying any authorities. But it was this that ultimately brought to her downfall.

The Downfall

When Helena Fry’s body was found in the Thames, Dyer was eventually apprehended and it was traced back to one of Dyer’s many aliases was Mrs. Thomas.

After the Thames and Kennett were searched, six more infants were discovered, all of whom still had the white edging tape around their necks. Later, Dyer was reported as stating, “[that] was how you could tell it was one of mine,” in reference to the white tape.

Trail and Execution

Even as the thought of a woman killing anyone was horrifying, the reality that she slaughtered babies was outrageous.

It is difficult to determine the full scope of her crimes. When she was most active, up to six newborns a day were reportedly brought into her home, according to witnesses.

Dyer probably caused the deaths of hundreds of children given that she practised baby farming for about 30 years.

Terrified Reading citizens engraved wooden crosses into the Clappers footbridge’s railing as a memorial to the defenceless victims of a serial baby killer who preyed on society’s intolerance to take advantage of its most vulnerable members.

Amelia Dyer and Jack the Ripper

Some people think that Amelia Dyer and Jack the Ripper are the same person because the murders happened around the same time as the Jack the Ripper killings and the victims of the Ripper were actually botched killings carried out by Dyer. There is not much proof to support this argument.

Do you know about the 90 years old serial killer who poisoned around 100 people ?

Youtube Channel: Crack a Jack

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