Godfrey's Cordial

In nineteenth century Britain, use of opium was widespread and unregulated. Medical officers were convinced that one of the major causes of infant mortality was the widespread practice of giving children narcotics, especially opium, to quieten them.

A substance known as Godfrey's Cordial , a mixture of molasses and opium was especially popular. Supposed to ease the irritation of colic in children , it also had the effect of knocking them out cold for several hours afterwards. It's use was said to be endemic in parts of Manchester. East Anglia was also a stronghold of opium abuse, opium in pills and penny sticks was widely sold. In Nottingham, one chemist sold 400 gallons of laudanum in a year.

It is thought that Godfrey's Cordial was also used for a darker purpose. An overdose could be fatal and countless parents found that it brought a quick, painless death to unwanted children for whom there was neither space nor food.

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