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TOWCESTER FAMILIES

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Murdered at Naseby, 1883

 

Mary Ann Miller was born in Towcester in 1862, the daughter of Benjamin and Ellen Miller, one of 10 children. Benjamin was a gardener, usually employed on the Easton Neston Estate (home of the Earl of Pomfret), where Mary grew up, and where she was married in July 1882 to George Bland of Clipston.

 

Within a year of her marriage, Mary had returned home to Hulcote, the village on the Easton Neston Estate. Her new husband was not working, and wandering around the lanes, talking about suicide. George persuaded her to return.

 

Less than a week later, on Thursday 19 April 1883, George Bland worked late, and the Blands had supper at New Hall farmhouse in Naseby before returning to their home. George Bland did not appear for work next morning, and the farm foreman, George Pratt, went to knock him up. Having no response, he obtained a ladder, and climbed up to the bedroom window. Mary Bland was lying on the floor in her nightdress. Her throat had been cut. George Bland was not there and there was a bloodstained knife on the kitchen table.

 

A search was organised for George Bland, but a thorough search of farms, fields, pools, and nearby Naseby village did not find him. As the news of Mary’s death spread, so news of George started to come in. At 6.30 am, he was at Kelmarsh, where he asked his uncle John Mutton for money. He proceeded to Kelmarsh station, where he threw himself onto the railway line in front of a train. The train driver managed to stop the train before reaching him. He then went to Tur Langton, where he was discovered milking cows.

 

The inquest was held on Saturday 21st April at the Royal Oak Inn at Naseby.  Evidence was given that Mary Bland was pregnant.

 

The trial of George Bland began on 10 Jul 1883. The issue the jury was asked to consider was the state of his mind at the time of the murder. Ellen Miller, wife of Benjamin Miller of Hulcote and Mary’s mother, gave evidence showing that the couple were generally on good terms, but that George Bland was depressed as he could not find work.

 

George was found Not Guilty on the Ground of Insanity, and he was to be detained during her Majesty's pleasure. He is found in Broadmoor in both the 1891 and 1901 Censuses.

 

Mary is buried at Easton Neston Church, where her tombstone gives no indication of her violent end. She is shown as” Mary Ann d Benjamin & Ellen Miller died Apr 20 [1883] aged 21”, no mention either of her marriage.