Previous Lectures

Lecture 12th February 2018

Angels and Angel Makers – A history of Child Protection.

The Angel of Mercy, painted by Joseph Highmore around 1746
The Angel of Mercy intervenes to save an infant from strangulation. Painted by Joseph Highmore c. 1746

Rhonda Willis was the last ‘Angel Maker’ to be hung in Britain in 1907. 129 years earlier in 1778, the King of Sweden decreed that no person convicted of infanticide was to be executed; instead, they were to be “perpetually imprisoned with a public whipping, once every year on the day upon which the crime was committed”. In times past, disease was also a big killer of infants but nowadays it is almost incomprehensible for us to believe that with our advanced technology and 21st century medicine, babies died at UK NHS hospitals at a higher rate than at the now infamous St Mary’s Mother and Baby Home in Tuam. One NHS hospital had a mortality rate of 43%, massively higher than any other maternity hospital in the UK.

The lecture will contain a whirlwind of interesting facts, restoring to public consciousness long misplaced material. What for example incentivised many French women to get deliberately pregnant, deliver and dispose of their baby. Why was the anonymous abandonment of infants encouraged and why did the secular authorities want to know the identity of the mother and father? Why did 3,000 babies die in London in a single moth? Plus much more.

Science historian Eugene Jordan and current president of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society will examine the history of child protection from its very beginnings in late antiquity to the present day. Despite the difficult nature of the subject, the lecture is aimed at a general audience and will be light, humorous at times, interesting, informative and inspiring. Based on years of research, the lecture will look at evidence from a science history perspective, which should allow the audience to answer the big controversial question for themselves: As they now stand accused, did the nuns in Tuam commit murder?

The lecture will take place at the Harbour Hotel, Galway,
Monday 12th February 2018
at 8pm

All are welcome to attend. Admission Free.