©Wellcome Library, London

Mary Toft holding a rabbit

Mary claimed to have had uncontrollable cravings for rabbit during her pregnancies. In April 1726, she had experienced ‘floodings' and a presumed miscarriage while chasing 2 rabbits across a field. Nathanial St André, who had no medical qualifications and had once taught languages, fencing and dancing, believed that the lack of viscera in the rabbits produced by Mary proved ‘in the strongest Terms possible that these Animals were not bred in a natural Way'. Rabbit stew and jugged hare disappeared for months from the English dinner table, and butchers lamented their loss of trade.

Source: A collection of four hundred portraits of remarkable, eccentric and notorious personages printed from the original copper plates of Caulfield's remarkable characters, Grainger and Kirby's wonderful museum. Reeves and Turner, London, c. 1880.