The Baby Farmers: A Chilling Tale of Missing Babies, Shameful Secrets and Murder in 19th Century Australia by Annie Cossins

Reviewed by
December 2013–January 2014, no. 357
The Baby Farmers

The Baby Farmers: A Chilling Tale of Missing Babies, Shameful Secrets and Murder in 19th Century Australia

by Annie Cossins

Allen & Unwin, $29.99 pb, 302 pp, 9781743314012

The Baby Farmers: A Chilling Tale of Missing Babies, Shameful Secrets and Murder in 19th Century Australia by Annie Cossins

Reviewed by
December 2013–January 2014, no. 357

In The Baby Farmers, legal scholar Annie Cossins revisits a bizarre episode in Australian criminal history. Her text focuses on a pair of baby killers who operated in Sydney during the nineteenth century. In October 1892, Sarah and John Makin were arrested after a baby’s corpse was found buried on their farm. An investigation revealed the bodies of twelve more babies, all buried in properties that had been inhabited by the Makins. The couple’s crimes stemmed largely from their poverty. Purchasing babies provided them with an (albeit limited) income. These babies had often been born out of wedlock, and their mothers relinquished them to avoid the stigma surrounding ‘illegitimate’ children.

The Baby Farmers

The Baby Farmers: A Chilling Tale of Missing Babies, Shameful Secrets and Murder in 19th Century Australia

by Annie Cossins

Allen & Unwin, $29.99 pb, 302 pp, 9781743314012

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