DiscoverLady Killers with Lucy Worsley29. Mary Ann Brough - Mother with Everything to Lose
29. Mary Ann Brough - Mother with Everything to Lose

29. Mary Ann Brough - Mother with Everything to Lose

Update: 2024-03-061


Lucy Worsley travels back in time to revisit the unthinkable crimes of 19th century murderesses from the UK, Australia and North America.

In this episode, Lucy is joined by Alexandra Wilson, a barrister specialising in criminal and family law and author of ‘In Black and White’, to explore the case of Mary Ann Brough in 1854.

Mary Ann lives in the picturesque county of Surrey, close to London. She’s married to George, who lives and works at the stately home nearby, while Mary Ann stays at home looking after six of their children. It sounds like an idyllic family life. But there are cracks beneath the surface. George suspects Mary Ann of having an affair and even hires a private detective to follow her to see if his suspicions are correct.

After the detective reports back, George confronts Mary Ann and declares he will be starting legal proceedings to take full custody of their children. After he leaves, Mary Ann puts the children to bed, but later that evening she commits a drastic act. She slits the throats of each of her children before trying to kill herself.

She is discovered the next day still alive, fully admitting to what she did. But why did she do it? Was it a cloud of insanity that took over her in a flash? Or was it to stop her husband gaining custody of the children and taking them away?

Lucy Worsley is also joined by Professor Rosalind Crone from the Open University. Together, they visit the village Mary Ann lived in and the stately estate nearby. In the studio with Alexandra Wilson they discuss the circumstances surrounding Mary Ann’s crime and how the custody laws at the time may have impacted her actions.

Lucy asks, has the way society treats custody disputes changed since Mary Ann’s time and does it view each parent equally?

Produced in partnership with the Open University.

Producer: Hannah Fisher
Readers: Clare Corbett, Jonathan Keeble
Singer: Olivia Bloore
Sound design: Chris Maclean
Series Producer: Julia Hayball

A StoryHunter production for BBC Radio 4

New episodes will be released on Wednesday wherever you get your podcasts. But if you’re in the UK, listen to the latest full series of Lady Killers first on BBC Sounds. BBC Sounds - Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley - Available Episodes:









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29. Mary Ann Brough - Mother with Everything to Lose

29. Mary Ann Brough - Mother with Everything to Lose

BBC Radio 4