Exclusive: Jill Brown reflects on the Ethel Major TV programme:

Jill Brown – Photo courtesy BBC

Following the recent TV programme about Ethel Major, hanged for murdering her husband in 1934, Ethel’s cousin Jill Brown, who brought this story to the attention of the BBC and appeared in the programme, has kindly shared her thoughts with us:

I thought it might be of interest to your readers to give a little more background to our family’s connection to Ethel Major (Nee Brown) and how I became involved in the program.

Although I now live in Kent on the South Coast my parents and wider family are from Lincolnshire and I still have many relations living there (many Brown’s!) My mother’s family were from Grimsby and my father born in South Willingham one of 6 children to Tom and Alice Brown. Grandad being a tenant farmer lived in various places around the county. My father gradually moved south due to work spending his last 50 years in St. Albans in Hertfordshire, despite that Lincolnshire was always where his heart was. Sadly my father passed away in 2017 and his wish was for his ashes to be scattered at Croxby Crossroads with other family members, back to his roots.           Continue reading

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Ethel Major: the Kirkby on Bain murderer

The subject of the first talk to be given in this year’s Cameo Club series, will be by Chrissie Chapman, who will talk about the notorious Ethel Major murder case. Until now I have preferred not to run the Ethel Major story here mainly because I have reservations about presenting the village in such a bad light. However, it seems the story simply will not go away, so here’s my two pennyworth.

Not long after we moved into Kirkby on Bain in 2001, somebody said to me something along the lines of “Of course you must know about our famous murderer, Ethel Major”. Of course I had never heard of her, so I did some very superficial research and found that this Kirkby on Bain lady was convicted of killing her husband (a nasty piece of work, allegedly,) in 1934 and hanged in Hull gaol.

A little later, when I started this blog, Betty Dixon, who was born that year and until recently was one of Kirkby’s oldest residents, kindly lent me a bundle of newspaper cuttings and a book about this case. Like a lot of accounts of past murders, quite a bit of this material was written in sensationalist styles, with little by way of references or source attributions. I also noticed that some accounts were word-for-word copies, apparently lifted from one original newspaper write-up.

During subsequent searches, I stumbled across a real surprise – macabre testimony to the everlasting obsession with murder, a knitted representation of Ethel’s house, made by Jean Arkell, originally installed at the Minories Art Gallery, Colchester. Believe it or not there really is a website featuring knitted representations of houses lived in by female murderers. Midsomer Murders scriptwriters, please take note.
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