Mary Toft Convinced Doctors She Was Giving Birth to Rabbits

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Mary Denyer was born in 1703 and in 1720 she married Joshua Toft. She was had three children already when she became pregnant in 1726. She suffered numerous painful complications early in her pregnancy and she claimed to have forced out numerous large pieces of flesh. On the 27th of September she went into labor.
A neighbor came to help through the labor and it was discovered that what was birthed was not a baby but several pieces of some sort of animal. Ann Toft, a local midwife, viewed the pieces and in shock sent the pieces to John Howard. John Howard was a man-midwife that was located in Guildford and had thirty years of experience.
John Howard refused to believe that a woman could give birth to an animal but still decided to see Mary. Ann Toft showed him the parts and he still did not believe the story, especially after doing an examination of Mary. However, after he left Mary once again went into labor and more animal parts were birthed. So, Howard returned and this time he not only saw animal parts but saw Mary go into labor to deliver even more parts. He gave an account on November 9th, which revealed that over the past several days Mary had birthed three cat legs, a rabbit leg, and cat entrails, with eel backbones inside them. Over the next few days more pieces of rabbit were birthed.
By this time the story gained attention and people all over were kept in rapt attention to learn of the circumstances surrounding a woman giving birth to several rabbit and even cat parts. A member of the court of King George I got wind of the story and had to investigate for himself. In November, John Howard had Mary Toft moved to Guidford where he offered to deliver rabbits in the presence of any doubters. Eventually news of the mysterious births reached Nathaniel St. Andre who was a Swiss surgeon to the Royal Household. St Andre watched as rabbit parts were delivered and then checked the organs to see that they had in fact breathed air, which led him to believe the rabbits had been bred in the Fallopian tubes.
The King became fascinated by the letters he received from the member of his court and from the reports of St. Andre, so he sent surgeon Cyriacus Ahlers to investigate further. And when Ahlers arrived he learned the truth about what was really going on with Mary Toft. The revelation of which ruined the careers of numerous doctors and had many people believing the medical profession was nothing more than a farce.
Read on to see what Ahlers uncovered.

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