|Birth: ||Jul. 24, 1801|
|Death: ||May 18, 1827|
Murder victim. The daughter of Thomas Marten and his first wife, Grace, Maria was considered to be a quiet and intelligent child who helped in the nursery in Layham, England, at an early age. Her mother died when Maria was 9 years old, and the girl had to look after her brothers and sisters back at her father's cottage at Polstead in Suffolk. She is said to have been attracted to wealthy young men when she grew up. Maria first had an affair with Thomas Corder when she was 17; although they had their first child, who died at a young age, they were not married, and her visits with Thomas became infrequent because of little financial support. She next had an affair with Peter Matthews, who fathered her second child, Thomas Henry; though she and Peter were not married, he provided a regular allowance for the boy's upkeep. Maria next had an affair with Thomas' brother William Corder in March 1826. In 1827, the pair had a third child, who is said to have died of illness within a month. Although Corder always made up excuses to delay the wedding, she persisted him to marry her. On May 18, Maria was last seen going to the Red Barn in Polstead, where Corder agreed to meet her in disguise. Her family became suspicious in the months following her disappearance. Near the end of 1827 she appeared to her family in a dream to tell them that she had been murdered by William Corder and buried in the Red Barn, and in April 1828, her stepmother Ann prompted her husband to search in the Red Barn, where they found their child's body in a shallow grave; the body appeared to have been stabbed and shot by William Corder. She was interred in Polstead Churchyard for a while. After Corder's arrest her body was exhumed from Polstead Churchyard and used as an exhibit against him at his trial. Afterwards, she was returned to her grave, where her headstone was taken apart by in chips by visitors as souvenirs. A wooden plaque was soon nailed to a shed at Polstead Church to indicate her grave which still appears today. Maria's legacy, along with that of her murderer William Corder, became widespread after his arrest and execution, and the case of the Red Barn Murder became popular in plays, in film, and in other media; and it still continues to this day.
St Mary Churchyard
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Debbie Kearns
Record added: Aug 15, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 20961778