The Bizarre Medical Mystery Of Mary Toft Will Leave Your Head Spinning

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We’ve all told a white lie or two about our health at some point. After all, sometimes you just need a day off from school or work.

And that’s totally harmless. While these little fibs might not hurt anyone, much more elaborate pranksters have been able to stir up controversy in the medical field by claiming some seriously bizarre anomalies.

A woman named Mary Toft was one of those people. With her elaborate tale of interspecies conception, not only was Toft able to baffle the entire medical field, but she fooled the royal family, too!

Mary Toft was an English peasant in the town of Godalming who had lived out most of her life tending to the fields. In 1720, she married her clothier husband, Joshua Toft, and together the couple had three children.

Despite expecting the couple’s fourth child, English law ruled that Toft would have to continue working in the fields throughout the course of her pregnancy. The strenuous manual labor left her with countless complications early on in her pregnancy. In August 1726, Toft suffered a miscarriage.

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Nearly a month after her miscarriage, it was reported that she had gone into labor and had given birth to a litter of dead rabbits.

John Howard, a local nurse with more than 30 years of experience, was summoned to help out with Toft’s bizarre delivery. Howard was quick to dismiss the idea of Toft giving birth to animal parts, but decided he needed to see things with his own two eyes.


After a full examination, Howard concluded that there was nothing wrong with her. However, when she went into labor a second time, he supposedly helped the woman give birth to nine dead baby rabbits.



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