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West Meon Infanticide and Suicide 1830

On 28 January 1830 Frances MARCH aged 32 drowned her infant child Amelia and then herself.

This tragic  murder and suicide in  West Meon was reported in the Hampshire Telegraph on 8 February 1830. Two days earlier the Hampshire Advertiser had described the same event.

The drowning occured in a tub of water usually used as a foot-bath.  Her husband Lancelot Foquett March and mother-in-law Mary March were absent at the time.

Inquest discloses Ill Health and Anxiety

The coroner Mr J H TODD held the inquest on both deaths. Evidence given indicated that the mother had suffered from a liver complaint for up to three months previously.  She also suffered depression brought on by the irregular habits of her husband.  The anxiety about the ultimate fate of her children resulted in progressive symptoms of insanity.  This resulted in her expressing concern over the fate of her youngest child who she wanted to die with her.

Verdict of Drowning

The verdict was that Frances, not being of sound mind, killed herself and her daughter by drowning in West Meon. The entry in the Hampshire Advertiser contradicted itself because it said that the inquest was on Frances and her infant son.  Later in the report it gave the correct details when reporting the verdict.

Church of St John, West Meon

St John’s Church, West Meon

Family Burials

The HGS Parish Burial Index shows that Frances Marsh (or March) aged 32 and the infant Amelia were buried in West Meon on 5 February 1830.  Lancelot F March was buried in Milford aged 58 on 25 April 1834.  Mary Marsh (or March?) aged 79 buried 15 November 1839 in Petersfield may have been Lancelot’s mother.

March Family Baptisms and Marriage

According to HGS Parish Indexes, Lancellot Foquett March was privately baptized on 31 Oct 1795 with the public baptism on 17 June 1796, both in Wickham. He married Frances SMITH on 11 August 1822 in Wickham.  Their first two children, John and Lancellot, were born in Wickham.  The next three children, Mary, Frederick Foquette and Amelia, were born in West Meon.  Amelia was baptized in West Meon church on 12 July 1829.

Name of Lancelot Foquett

Origins of the rare Lancelot Foquett given names are not known but may relate to the Isle of Wight family of that name. Lancelot FOQUETT lived at East Cowes in the late 18th Century and was Master of the Medena Masonic Lodge from 1779 to 1787.  He died in April 1797.  There was another Foquett family in Christchurch in the 18th Century.

Roy Montgomery

Research Centre

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