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Historic case at a leading Lincolnshire solicitors re-examined for BBC series

An historic case at a leading Lincolnshire solicitors will be featured on television next week as part of BBC investigations into a 1934 case of a woman accused of murdering her husband with a corned beef supper.

Staff at the Horncastle branch of Chattertons Solicitors & Wealth Management welcomed the crew of BBC One series, Murder, Mystery and My Family, who were investigating the case of Ethel Major.

The 43-year-old, from Kirkby on Bain, was convicted and hanged for the murder of her 44-year-old husband Arthur Major, in 1934. Richard Chatterton, a Horncastle Solicitor and founder of Chattertons, was Ethel’s Defence Solicitor. 

Edward Conway, Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We were contacted by the series producers who were working with a descendant of Ethel Major to research her case. They were looking at the documents in the court files, which led them to us and Richard Chatterton who was the solicitor who instructed Ethel’s defence counsel during her trial.

“Chattertons were heavily involved in the case and believed that Ethel was innocent. One of the last letters Ethel ever sent was to him, thanking him for everything he had done for her.”

It is known that Ethel had a daughter at the age of 23, whom she named Auriol, in 1914 but refused to tell anyone who the father was. She was brought up by Ethel’s parents and passed off as Ethel’s sister.

Ethel married Arthur in the summer of 1918 and gave birth to a son, Lawrence, in 1919. It is believed that in the early 1930’s Arthur found out about Ethel’s first child and demanded to know who the father was. Ethel refused to say and their relationship began to deteriorate.

After eating corned beef on May 22nd Arthur complained of severe stomach pains and died two days later.

Investigators from Scotland Yard were sent to investigate the murder.

The television series follows relatives of those convicted of murder and hanged for their crime, as they reinvestigate the evidence using modern forensics and team up with Barristers Jeremy Dein QC and Sasha Wass QC.

In the first series, half of the cases investigated were found to be unsafe by Judge David Radford.

Ethel was hanged at Hull prison in December in 1934.

Chattertons Solicitors & Wealth Management is a leading firm of solicitors and provider of wealth management services in the county. It provides a wide range of services delivering advice to individuals and businesses.

The day time TV series, Murder, Mystery and My Family is on BBC One weekdays at 9:15am. The case of Ethel Major will be aired on Friday, 5 April at 9:15am on BBC One.

For more information about Chattertons, visit


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