The Day She Cradled Me

The Day She Cradled Me is based on the life of the infamous ‘baby farmer’ Minnie Dean, the only woman in NZ history ever to be executed.

Accused of infanticide and awaiting trial and then sentence, Minnie confides in the Reverend Lindsay. Alternating between these two contrasting personalities, the novel tells Minnie’s version of events. From her oppressive upbringing in Victorian Scotland to adulthood in Southland, Minnie battles her own nature, the hardships of colonial life and social hypocrisy. Once tried, Minnie has to face her impending execution, while the Reverend Lindsay, who has become her unlikely ally, fights to prevent her paying the ultimate price for society’s sins.

Minnie is presented as a real person, not the monster she is often seen as, or indeed a murderer. The book incorporates actual transcripts of letters, as well as true newspaper accounts and Minnie’s own words.


Finished reading and wondering what happened next?


Colonist, 10 January, 1907


Invercargill, January 9
At the adjourned inquest on John Hornsby, who was killed by a train at Woodlands on the 31st December, it was shown that he was muddled with drink, and no blame was attached to the Railway Authorities. The evidence showed that the man remained on the line though he saw the train approaching, and he was warned by persons near to look out. The engine driver regarded it as a case of deliberate suicide.

Susan Hornsby, aged 33 years, married William Thomas Isaac Brown, aged 39 years, on 4th June 1902 (Otago/part Southland Presbyterian Marriages at Knox College Index of Brides and Grooms 1848-1920)


Otago Witness
2nd August, 1921



13104    HORNSBY JANE                                                 (class 1) Lot 21 Block 141A

Died JUL 26 1921. Aged 75 years. A WIFE. Resident of HALFWAY BUSH. Lived 55 years in New Zealand. Buried 28 JUL. Informant HUGH GOURLEY.

John McCulloch, 45 years engine driver, Caledonian Railway died at 11 Belville Street on 20th January, 1888 aged 78.

Elizabeth McCulloch married Thomas McNeill, blockmaker on 13th June, 1859 at 27 Lynedoch Street, Greenock.

Christina McCulloch married William Smith Selby on 17th June, 1870 at 31 Lynedoch Street, Greenock.

Isabella McCulloch married Robert McCrae, engine driver on 22nd July, 1880 at 101, Belville Street

Otago Daily Times
27 July 1921

HORNSBY. – On July 26, 1921, at her residence, Halfway Bush, Jane, dearly beloved mother of Mrs Brown (Kaikorai), Mrs Brinsdon (Halfway Bush), Mrs Ivess (Christchurch), Mrs Roberts (Kaikorai), Mrs Craig (St Kilda), and Mrs Hornal (Halfway Bush); aged 75 years. Deeply mourned.

28 August 1933, p10


The death occurred at his residence, Clyde road, Riccarton, yesterday of the Rev. George Lindsay, a retired minister of the Presbyterian Church. Mr Lindsay, who was 87 years of age, had been failing in health in recent years, and his last illness had extended over only five days.

The greater part of Mr Lindsay’s active ministry was at Invercargill, where for 23 years he was minister of St. Paul’s Church. In those years he was one of the leaders of his church in that centre of Presbyterianism and was held in the highest esteem and affection by his large congregation. In his long and successful ministry his outstanding success was in winning the confidence and regard of large numbers of young men, and regularly there were more than the usual percentages of young men in his congregations. Among his colleagues in the ministry he was no less esteemed for his integrity and sagacity, and in 1911 the church bestowed upon him the highest honour when it elected him Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand.

Mr Lindsay retired from the charge of St. Pauls in 1911. He had suggested to his congregation some years before that it might be better for the parish to have a change of ministers, and that especially the congregation might wish to have a younger man to lead it, but on that occasion he yielded to a strong appeal from the largest congregational meeting ever held in St. Paul’s to remain at Invercargill. For two years Mr Lindsay was at St. Clair, Dunedin, and then for five years at Southbridge, retiring from active ministry in 1918. For the last 15 years he had lived quietly at Riccarton.

Mr Lindsay is survived by his widow and three sons, Mr A. M. Lindsay, superintending engineer of tramways in Montreal, Mr E. Charles Lindsay, the distinguished Harley Street surgeon who two years ago performed a successful operation on Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Dr A. Bonar Lindsay formerly of Christchurch and now of Cachar, Assam.

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