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Ernest BROWN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Jealousy - Arson
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 5, 1933
Date of birth: 1898
Victim profile: Frederick Ellison Morton (his employer and lover's husband)
Method of murder: Shooting
LocationYorkshire, England, United Kingdom
Status: Executed by hanging at Armley prison in Leeds on February 6, 1934

Ernest Brown was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged for the murder of Frederick Ellison Morton in September 1933. He had killed him with a shotgun. He was hanged by Tom Pierrepoint.


Ernest Brown was 35 and worked for Frederick Ellison Morton a wealthy cattle farmer at Saxton Grange, a remote Yorkshire farmhouse, as a groom. His wife Dorothy Morton was attracted to Brown and became his mistress.

After a disagreement with Mr Morton Ernest Brown left his job only to beg to be reinstated a few days later. Morton agreed but instead of being grateful Brown seemed to resent Morton even more.

On 5 September 1933 Brown had an argument with Dorothy and struck her. Brown later went outside and discharged a shotgun. He told them he was shooting at rats. Mrs Morton and her companion, Ann Houseman were scared and when they discovered that the phone was dead they locked themselves in their bedroom.

At about 3.30 in the morning there was a loud explosion and the garage was set on fire. The two women ran from the house and hid in fields nearby.

Because of the intensity of the fire it was not possible to inspect the garage until 9am the next morning. On investigation the police found the garage contained two cars one of which had Mortons body inside. He had been shot in the chest.

Brown was convicted and was hanged at Armley prison in Leeds on 6 February 1934 by Tom Pierrepoint.



Ernest Brown was employed as a groom by Frederick Ellison Morton. Morton was a wealthy cattle factor and he lived with his wife and child at Saxton Grange, a remote Yorkshire farmhouse.

Morton's wife, Dorothy, became Brown's mistress but their relationship was spoiled by Brown's raging jealousy. Brown left Saxton Grange after a disagreement over his duties but returned within days asking to have his job back. He was re-employed but was resentful about his status.

On 5th September 1933 Mr Morton went out for the day in one of his two cars. In the early evening Brown and Dorothy Morton argued and he struck her to the ground. Brown went out and a short while later Mrs Morton and her companion, Ann Houseman, heard the discharge of a shotgun outside the house. He told the two women that he was shooting at rats. The women were terrified by this time and, when they found that the telephone had gone dead, locked themselves in an upstairs room.

At 3.30am there was an explosion, followed by a fire, in the garage. The two women ran from the house and hid in fields near-by. Because of the intensity of the fire it was not possible to inspect the garage until 9am. Inside the remains of the garage were both of Morton's cars and, in one of them, was the body of Morton. He had been shot in the chest.

Brown's trial took place in Leeds. Forensic evidence showed that the telephone lines had been severed by a knife that Brown had taken from the kitchen and that the explosion had been caused by the petrol that had been spread around the garage. 35-year-old Brown was found guilty and hanged at Armley Gaol, Leeds, on 6th February 1934.


Evelyn Foster – Otterburn

January 6th, 1931

Burned almost beyond recognition, Evelyn Foster whispered from her hospital bed: “I gave a lift in my car to a man who was smartly dressed, wore a bowler hat and had a Tyneside accent. He wanted to go to Ponteland, about 25 miles away, to catch a Newcastle bus.”

During the journey, the man began touching her up. Distraught, Evelyn pulled into the verge, whereupon he knocked her unconscious. When she came round he had taken over the driving. He stopped the car, poured some liquid over her, got out, and set the vehicle on fire.

Trapped in the flames, Evelyn had some difficulty getting out of the car to crawl some yards away. She remembered hearing another car stop, men’s voices, then the other car drove away.

Evelyn, daughter of an Otterburn garage owner, was not raped, she was not bruised where she said she was struck, and was thought to have been sitting in the burning car for some while. It would have been impossible for a man to drive the car sitting in the position she said her attacker had occupied.

So did it happen like she said, that night of Tuesday, January 6th, 1931? Did she have a twisted, hidden motive? No, said the coroner’s jury. It was murder.

They were probably right. For only 20 months later Ernest Brown, 31, a groom, was found guilty of the murder of his boss, Frederick Morton. Brown, who had been having an affair with Mrs. Morton, shot the husband at close range then set fire to his car – with Morton inside it. The killing took place 100 miles away, near Tadcaster in Yorkshire.

Brown was a natty dresser, wore a bowler hat and spoke with a Tyneside accent. Just like the man Evelyn described.

On the scaffold the chaplain told him: “You should use these last few moments to confess your sins and make your peace with God.” As the hangman was about to despatch him he was thought to have murmured: “Otterburn.”


Frederick Ellison Morton


The burned out garage



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