Following an enquiry from a reader, I’m interested in a grim bit of Brownhills history. I’m aware this is bordering on the tasteless, but the interest is, I feel, valid. I won’t name the reader or the purpose, but I need to clear some issues up surrounding this awful event if I can, and I like you readers to help if at all possible. If you’d rather email than comment, please contact me in confidence on brownhillsbob at googlemail dot com, cheers. I’m aware that surviving family may still be around and this is a sensitive issue. I really have no intention to offend, and proceed with respect and care. This article is based on an email exchange between the reader, myself and Paul Ford at the Walsall Local Hisory Centre.
In a nutshell, in 1908 (I believe), the licensee of the Anchor Inn, on Anchor Bridge, shot and killed his (believed) newlywed wife, who previous to their marriage was called Maria Seedhouse. The story goes that after she was shot, she wasn’t killed immediately, and locals in the pub at the time rushed to help her, without success. Meanwhile, there was a shot from elsewhere in the building as Maria’s husband subsequently took his own life.
I’ve tried researching this incident before, and some of the details are conflicted. This awful tragedy is said to have occurred after some kind of marital strife but I’m not certain.This happened at the old Anchor, replaced by a new one about 1985.
Now the uncertainty arises from this statement in that excellent work ‘Memories of Brownhills Past’, by Clarice Mayo & Geoff Harrington….
You’ll note the caption says it was Thomas Humphries who was the gunman. The reader researching this believes that Thomas Humphries was not the murderer, he was in fact Maria’s first husband, who died a short time previously of cirrohsis of the liver. Reasearch indicates that Maria remarried soon after Thomas’s death, and her new husband was one Hyla Hanslow.
My correspondent had this to say:
I have been trying to research the goings on at ‘The Anchor Inn’ and have found some info about a woman named Maria Hanslow who was murdered there in 1908 by her 2nd husband Hyla Hanslow, who then shot himself. My reason for getting in touch with you, is do you know where or if there are any photo’s of this lady? i have seen a bit on the net where a Ruth Hanslow is delving into her family history and tells the above story and also mentions a couple of pictures, but I cant find any anywhere.
I would be very grateful if you have anymore info on this story or where I can get hold of a photo of this lady and possibly Hyla George Hanslow too. I would like to thank you in advance and even if you can’t help, thanks anyway, just for listening.
P.S. Maria was born in 1867 as Maria Seedhouse and married a former licencee by the name of Thomas Humphries in 1887.
As to local incidentals, Levi Seedhouse kept the Warreners Arms down the hill at the time, and the Seedhouses were a large local family, as were the Humphries. The name H Seedhouse is recorded with a J Humphries rather surprisingly the brickwork of the old Warreners.
Please note, I’m not saying anyone is wrong or right – I don’t know is about the size of it. I welcome any contributions you can make, and my apologies if I cause any offence.