Murder of Maria Marten, The
DESCRIPTION: William Corder has Maria Marten meet him at the red barn before they go to Ipswich to be married. He murders her and buries the body in the red barn. Her body is discovered by following her mother's dream. Corder is tried and sentenced to be hanged.
EARLIEST DATE: before 1862 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 14(239))
KEYWORDS: courting homicide dream gallows-confession mother
Aug 11, 1828 - William Corder is executed for the May 1827 murder of Maria Marten (source: NLScotland commentary to broadside L.C.Fol.70(71b))
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 628, "Maria Martin" (1 text)
Bodleian, Harding B 14(239), "Murder of Maria Marten, by William Corder" ("Come all you thoughtless young men a warning take by me"), E.M.A. Hodges (London), 1855-1861; also Firth c.17(110), Firth b.25(379), "Murder of Maria Marten by W. Corder"; Firth c.17(111), "Murder of Maria Martin by W. Corder"
NLScotland, L.C.Fol.70(71b), "The Murder of Maria Marten by W. Corder," unknown, c.1845
cf. "Maria Marten" (subject)
NOTES [522 words]: Description based on broadside Bodleian, Harding B 14(239). Roud assigne the same number to "Maria Marten"; the texts are clearly different and told from a different point of view. This is a gallows confession.
There is a sequel broadside -- Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 2416, "A copy of verses, on the execution of Wm. Corder, for the murder of Maria Marten, in the Red Barn, Polstead," unknown, no date -- in which he is executed August 11. The commentary to Broadside NLScotland L.C.Fol.70(71b) states that a "broadsheet published in London by James Catnach about this crime sold over one million copies."
Hall, notes to Voice03 for "Maria Marten": "The story captured the popular imagination through its additional representation in the melodrama, Murder In The Red Barn, played by countless amateur and touring companies."
Yates, Musical Traditions site Voice of the People suite "Notes - Volume 3" - 19.8.02: "[Marten's] three illegitimate children -- to different fathers -- and her possible criminal activities with Corder became overshadowed by the myth that grew up around her death. Indeed, research now suggests that her mother's 'supernatural dreams' were motivated not so much by psychic phenomena as by her own criminal knowledge and probable association with Corder."
A note for The Haunting of William Corder on the Alistair Ferguson site: "The true-life murder of Maria Marten, upon which John Latimer's famous [Victorian] melodrama 'Maria Marten; or The Murder in the Red Barn" is based, has been adapted several times over the years. This is my version of the story."
There are references at IMDB [Internet Movie DataBase site] to movies from 1902 (Maria Marten: or, The Murder at the Red Barn), and 1935 (Maria Marten, or The Murder in the Red Barn). - BS
To the above compare Marc Alexander, A Companion to the Folklore, Myths & Customs of Britain, Sutton Publishing, 2002, p. 200, article "Murder in the Red Barn":
"The story of Maria Marten and her murder achieved the status of a fold tale largerly because of the melodrama The Red Barn or the Gypsy's Curse that was based on the tragedy. The play was first performed in 1828, the year after Maria's death, and one reason for its outstanding success was its theme of a simple village girl betrayed by a heartless member of the gentry. The story was given furtner prominence by a book entitled The Awful Adventure of Maria Monk.
Marten, according to Alexander, was a mole-catcher's daughter, and William Corder, who had gotten her pregnant, preferred a London school-keeper named Mary Moore. In 1827, he told Marten to meet him at a red barn; she "was never seen alive again." Later, he tells Maria's parent that he has married her, but Maria's mother had nightmares and managed to convince the authorities to find the body.
In a macabre development, after Corder was hanged, his skin had cured and used as a binding for a record of the proceedings.
The Digital Tradition lists this has been collected from one Joseph Taylor (initially in 1908), who sang a three-verse fragment to the tune of "The Star of the County Down"/"Dives and Lazarus." - RBW
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