On 31st January 1893, an inquest was held in the cocoa rooms on Lark Lane before Mr Brighouse, the county coroner, on the body of an unknown male child.
The first witness called was Alexander Browne, 9 years old living with his parents at 14 Ivanhoe Road. He reported that on the Friday previously, he had been playing on some waste ground on Marmion Road with a friend called Reginald McGeorge. The 2 boys found the head of the unknown victim in a hole.
McGeorge, also aged 9 and who lived at 12 Ivanhoe Road, was the next witness called. He told the coroner that when they found the head they were not aware it was a child’s. He thought it was a turnip. The boy also remembered seeing some boys building a bonfire on the same patch of waste land around a month before.
The boys called a butcher’s boy who was passing to also look at their discovery and he told them it was the head of a child. They then all went to the police to let them know of their grisly find.
Sergeant Foster was first on the scene and reported that the child’s head was so decomposed that it was unrecognisable. It was in a hole around a foot deep, and beside it were some pieces of burnt canvas. When the Sergeant lifted these charred pieces, he found the left leg, back, abdomen and other parts of a child’s body. The right leg, a portion of the chest and the right leg was missing.
A domestic servant who worked for a family in Marmion Road, reported also seeing a fire around a month earlier on the same piece of waste ground.
Dr J B Oliver of Lark Lane reported that upon examination, the child had been around three to six months old upon the time of death. He did not think the fire could have been responsible for the destruction of the missing parts of the child’s body.
The inquest recorded an open verdict.
18 months after this verdict was reached, an inmate of the Dale St Bridewell, Matilda Alice Royle, aged 27, was found to be the mother of the deceased child, Bruce Wallace Royle.
It was found when she could no longer pay for the child to be looked after by a child-minder, she took a tram from North Liverpool to Toxteth Park and left the child on the waste ground, wrapped in her own woollen skirt, with a feeding bottle nearby. When arrested, Miss Royle also added it was snowing when she abandoned the child.
The case was held in court on 2nd August 1894, in which the woman received a sentence of 12 months imprisonment with hard labour.
Looking at the census returns for Matilda, she went onto work as a confectioner’s assistant, and then married in 1925.