Easter, John

Collection date: Sept 1912

Area: Essex


John East at Great Dunmow: age 69, 2 songs ‘Maria Marten’ and ‘Dabbling in the Dew’ (FT2798,9) on 14 Sept 1912: Sharp only collected 1 other version of the murder song ‘Maria Marten’ (Roud 215) and that was from Robert Feast at Ely in 1911. It is sometimes known as ‘The Red Barn Murder’. Maria Marten was a young woman, shot dead by her lover William Corder at Polstead in Suffolk in 1827. Corder was hanged in Bury St Edmunds in August 1828. James Catnach, the London printer, reputedly sold over a million broadsides (ballad sheets), which detailed Corder’s confession and execution.

Sharp noted that John East was blind and aged 69. In the Dunmow workhouse records (1911 census) the inmate corresponding to such a description is actually ‘John Easter’. John was baptised on 30/6/1844 at St Mary’s church, Great Canfield, Essex. He was the 2nd of 7 sons (and 1 daughter) of Charles Easter and his wife Jane. John never married and was an agricultural labourer all his life. His blindness is not recorded in any census before 1911. He was buried back at Great Canfield on 28/7/1917.

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