Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A baby cries... tragic accident- William Herbert Robey Strelley Harris 1899-1902

Emily heard her baby son cry. She had only been at the door talking to a neighbour such a short time. She should never have left little William sitting quietly by the fire while she answered the door.
She heard her son cry again in agony. Somehow he had tumbled in backwards into the pot of boiling caustic soda and water.
He was frightfully scalded all over and the cries grew as she took his clothes off and peeled his baby skin with them.
Oh how he suffered and screamed until evening when he succumbed to his injuries and death gave him relief.
His cries on that February day in 1902 were replaced by those of his recently widowed mother Emily Ann Harris...
Ironically more tears would be shed when she suffered accusations from the Strelley and Harris families in the old country who accused her of “disposing” of little William Herbert Robey Strelley Harris, heir to his father’s fortunes. Behaviour unbecoming of the fine family whose names he bore.
Known as “the case of the boiling baby” in family circles for over 100 years, Emily has since been vindicated. Tears of joy replace the heartache as Ancestry.com has reunited the Strelley and Harris relatives and the true story of that tragic accident has been unfolded thanks to Trove.

The Trove article from the West Australian 20 Feb 1902


  1. How horrific for that poor child and his mother. Finally the truth comes to light.

  2. What a terrible tragedy. As a mother, I can't even imagine how poor Emily would have dealt with that experience.