Hectorina Maclennan

Hectorina Maclennan was one of John Christie’s victims. Her name caught my eye because it is so obviously a name of a woman from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. It is sad that she immigrated from so far to be murdered by a pathetic man in Notting Hill.

Hectorina Maclennan's grave

Her shared pauper’s grave is in Gunnersbury Cemetery in west London which is owned and managed by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Her age in most accounts is 26 although it says 27 on the gravestone.

The most information I can find about Hectorina herself is from this talk by Dr Jonathan Oates of Ealing Council libraries.

A prolific burglar, 39-year-old engineer Frank Collyer, who has links with the above case, was active in Acton, and indeed in Twyford Crescent at this time. On 25 January 1953 he broke into number 15 and stole clothing to the value of £175 from Mrs Rae Harris and on 16 February stole £80 worth of goods from 48 Churchfield Road. He had had nine previous convictions, dating from the 1930s and was arrested when he arranged to meet one of the people he had robbed, claiming he could help restore their property by them buying it back from him. His victim contacted the police and they arrested him when he met her. Collyer was the on and off boyfriend of Hectorina MacLennan, whom he had lived with in February 1953 before being arrested. He later said that the two were in a milk bar in Notting Hill Gate when they saw a balding, middle-aged man, and Hectorina said that she knew him and that he was trouble. However, this, if true, did not prevent her from accompanying the man back to his rooms on 6 March (after having stayed there for three previous nights with Alexander Baker, another boyfriend), where she became the final victim of John Christie. Collyer’s estranged wife worked as a welfare officer at Acton Town Hall and gave Hectorina gifts and advised her to return to her family and children in Scotland – advice fatally disregarded.

10 thoughts on “Hectorina Maclennan

  1. Hectorina was my grandads sister unfortunately my grandfather has past away but we all no the story of what happend mark maclennan

  2. The foundations of the house where Hectorina MacLennan was born and bred are still evident in our back garden in the NW Highlands. We have but a shed and greenhouse on the foundations and so all sorts of exotic plants grow where she once played as a child. People still occasionally talk about the event in hushed tones – perhaps the exotic greenhouse should be dedicated to her memory – we should call it Hectorina’s Haven!

    • Hi Stephanie.
      I have always wanted to know where Hectorina came from as I have been reading about true crime for a long time and am particularly interested in the Rillington Place story.
      The main reason I wish to learn about poor Hectorina is that I myself am from the Western Isles and her name immediately drew my attention as it isn’t that unusual where I come from.
      I would only need the name of the village or even just the area, anything at all to give me a more tangible understanding of her.
      Donald Campbell.

  3. i am the granchild of hectorina maclennan the story is so sad i would love to trace the story further and get a better understanding of the famaly tree as there is so many blanks.would love to fill in the blanks for mum and her sister as this has haunted them for so long.

    • My partner’s mum lives in West London and I went to Gunnersbury cemetery and located Hectorina’s grave. I bought flowers which I left there and I said a prayer for her soul. It’s so desperately sad to think that she was killed so horribly and so far from home. I hope the family don’t mind me doing that. I have actually visited her grave twice now and will continue to do so while I can.
      Donald Campbell.

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