Peppermint Billy: Author Joanne Vigor-Mungovin uncovers truth of infamous Leicester double murder in her new book

By Fiora Flinton

Joanne Vigor-Mungovin tells the story of Peppermint Billy otherwise known as William Brown in her new book Peppermint Billy – William Brown and the Tollgate Murders of 1856.

William Brown, who was born in Scalford in 1819, came from quite a notorious family and went onto become a Leicestershire folklore tale after being convicted of a double murder of a 70-year-old tollgate keeper and his nine-year-old grandson in Melton Mowbray.

Joanne, who was born and bred in Leicestershire took an interest to this story and carried out research to compile hard evidence and uncover truths.

“What pushed me to write about this story was when a cousin of mine reached out to me and said that her husband was related to the murder victim – she sent me the trial report she received through researching history and that was what sparked it.”

Joanne’s first book which tells the infamous story of the Elephant Man (Joseph Merrick) – Joseph, The Life Times and Places of the Elephant Man is also a Leicestershire based historical biography.

“When I was researching the Elephant Man, I discovered that I was related to the showman who exhibited him (Tom Norman) and worked out that we were 5th cousins.”

In the same way, finding a personal connection to the story of Peppermint Billy encouraged her to keep researching and writing.

“As I delved more and more into William, this man, although he was convicted of a double murder, had such a fascinating history before he was convicted and I wanted to tell that story.”

Joanne talks about her interest in Leicester based stories and stated that “I’ve always had a fascination with Leicester’s history, we don’t really celebrate it and I think we should.”

She held her book signing on 25th of July, on the 166th anniversary of William Brown’s execution at Leicester Guildhall.

“It was fantastic, I did the talk on William which sparked a lot of interest – I’d never had so many questions after a talk as I did on William Brown.”

The event was also listed as a cheese and wine event, “we had local cheese and pork pies from Melton Mowbray itself and 19 Crimes wine.”

Joanne was very content with turnout of the book signing, “I sold all my books and some Joseph Merrick books, helped some people with their research as well.”

As for now, Joanne is taking a break from writing but has many talks lined up, including one with the Leicester Archaeology Society in September.

Joanne’s books are available on Mango Books and on

Author: Joanne Vigor-Mungovin

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