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Episode 10: Minnie Dean

Andi and Ayla explore the baby farming era and Minnie Dean’s involvement. Minnie moved from Scotland to Invercargill with her two children in the early 1860s. Once in New Zealand she married Charles Dean, and they adopted two further children. Years later, after moving into a two-bedroom cottage, Minnie found one of her children and two grandchildren dead in a well, a suspected murder-suicide. It was around this time that Minnie started partaking in ‘baby farming’ or taking in unwanted children for money, with up to 9 young children at once. In 1889 and 1891, two babies lost their lives under Minnie’s care. The outcome of this was for Minnie to provide better living conditions for her children. 6 weeks’ later another baby died, leaving the public to think Minnie was to blame, despite investigations coming to nothing due to inadequate child welfare laws. In 1895 Minnie was seen boarding a train carrying a baby and a hatbox, then on her way home was spotted with only the hatbox. Minnie was again investigated, and three children were found buried in her yard. In 1895 she was found guilty of the murder of Dorothy Carter and was sentenced to death by hanging. Out of the 26 children she had in her care, one was reclaimed by their family, five were found healthy, and six had died. The fate of the others is unknown.

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