Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll

Josslyn Victor Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll (11 May 1901 – 24 January 1941)[1] was a British peer, famed for the unsolved case surrounding his murder and the sensation it caused during wartime in Britain.

Josslyn Hay
Josslyn Hay Telegraph
Lord Erroll in 1941
Born11 May 1901
Mayfair, Westminster, UK
Died24 January 1941 (aged 39)
Ngong, British Kenya
Cause of deathMurder
Title22nd Earl of Erroll
Tenure1928 – 1941
Other titlesBaron Kilmarnock
Known forFascist sympathizer; murder victim
ResidenceNairobi, Kenya
PredecessorVictor Hay, 21st Earl of Erroll
SuccessorDiana Hay, 23rd Countess of Erroll
Lady Idina Sackville
(m. 1923; div. 1930)
IssueDiana Hay, 23rd Countess of Erroll

Early life

Hay was the eldest son of the diplomat Victor Hay, Lord Kilmarnock (later Earl of Erroll) and his wife Lucy, the only daughter of Sir Allan Mackenzie, 2nd Baronet. In 1911, he attended the coronation of George V and carried his grandfather's coronet.[2] He began at Eton College in 1914 but was dismissed two years later.

Although possessing one of Scotland's most distinguished titles, the earls, by this time, had no wealth, and had to develop careers to earn their living. In 1920, Hay was appointed honorary attaché at Berlin under his father, who was earlier appointed chargé d'affaires there before the arrival of Edgar Vincent, 1st Viscount D'Abernon.[3] His father was soon appointed High Commissioner to the Rhineland, but Hay stayed in Berlin and served under Lord D'Abernon until 1922.

After passing the Foreign Office examinations, Hay was expected to follow his father into diplomacy, but instead became infatuated with Lady Idina Sackville, a daughter of Gilbert Sackville, 8th Earl De La Warr, divorced wife of the politician Euan Wallace and the wife of Charles Gordon. Lady Idina soon divorced her husband in 1923 and she and Hay were married on 22 September 1923.[1]


After causing a society scandal due to their marriage – she was twice-divorced, notoriously unconventional in many ways, and eight years his senior – Hay and his wife moved to Kenya in 1924, financing the move with Idina's money. Their home was a bungalow on the slopes of the Aberdare Range which they called Slains, after the former Hay family seat of Slains Castle which was sold by Hay's grandfather, the 20th Earl, in 1916. The bungalow was sited alongside the high altitude farms which other white Kenyans were establishing at the time.

The Happy Valley set were a group of elite, colonial expatriates who became notorious for drug use, drinking, adultery and promiscuity, amongst other things. Hay soon became a part of this group and accumulated debts. Hay had inherited his father's titles in 1928 and his wife divorced him in 1930 because he was cheating her financially. Hay then married the divorced Edith Maude ("Molly") Ramsay-Hill on 8 February 1930. They lived in Oserian, a Moroccan-style house on the shores of Lake Naivasha and his new wife succumbed to the hedonistic lifestyle of Happy Valley.

On a visit to England in 1934, Lord Erroll joined Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists and on his return to Kenya a year later, became president of the Convention of Associations. He attended the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937 and was elected to the legislative council as member for Kiambu in 1939.[4] On the outbreak of World War II that year, Lord Erroll became a captain in the Kenya Regiment and accepted the post of Military Secretary for East Africa in 1940.

On 13 October 1939, Lady Erroll died. At the Muthaiga Country Club in 1940, Lord Erroll met, and subsequently had an affair with, Lady Diana Broughton, the wife of Sir Jock Delves Broughton, Bt. (and, ultimately, Baroness Delamere).[5]


Delves Broughton learned of the affair and after spending a night with Lady Delves Broughton, Lord Erroll was found shot dead in his Buick at a crossroads on the Nairobi-Ngong road on 24 January 1941. Sir Jock was accused of the murder, arrested on 10 March and stood trial from 26 May. There were no eyewitnesses to the killing; the evidence against him proffered in court was weak; and his barber was also foreman of the jury. Sir Jock was acquitted on 1 July. He committed suicide in England a year later.

Lord Erroll is buried in the graveyard of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Kiambu, Kenya, next to his second wife, Molly.[6] His earldom and lordship of Hay passed to his only child, Diana, by his first wife, whilst his barony of Kilmarnock passed to his brother, Gilbert, who changed his surname to Boyd in 1941.[7][8]

Popular culture

  • The BBC television drama The Happy Valley, first transmitted on 6 September 1987, told the story of Erroll's murder, as seen through the eyes of 15-year-old Juanita Carberry, daughter of John Carberry (10th Baron Carbery), to whom Broughton confessed his guilt even before he was arrested.[9]
  • The incident inspired James Fox's 1982 investigative book White Mischief, which was adapted into the 1988 film of the same title by Michael Radford.[10]
  • The case featured in the documentary Altitude, Alcohol and Adultery, directed by Vanni Ocleppo, and first broadcast on BBC1 on 4 June 1993.
  • The incident was also adapted into an episode of the series Julian Fellowes Investigates: A Most Mysterious MurderThe Case of the Earl of Erroll in 2005.

See also


  1. ^ a b Cokayne et al., The Complete Peerage, volume I, p.1337
  2. ^ London Gazette – 26 September 1911
  3. ^ London Gazette – 23 January 1920
  4. ^ London Gazette – 10 November 1936
  5. ^ Woods, Judith. "Revealed: the White Mischief murderer". Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  6. ^ Thursday; September 3; 2015 20:13. "Little church with buried Happy Valley-era ties". Business Daily. Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  7. ^ "Gilbert Alan (6th Baron Kilmarnock) Boyd (Previously Hay) b. 15 Jan 1903 d. 15 Mar 1975: The Douglas Archives". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  8. ^ "Gilbert Allan Rowland Boyd, 6th Baron Kilmarnock - Person - National Portrait Gallery". Retrieved 26 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Revealed: the White Mischief murderer". Daily Telegraph. 11 May 2007.
  10. ^ "'White Mischief' murder finally solved after 66 years". Daily Mail. 11 May 2007.


External links

Peerage of Scotland
Preceded by
Victor Alexander Sereld Hay
Earl of Erroll
Succeeded by
Diana Denyse Hay
Peerage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Victor Alexander Sereld Hay
Baron Kilmarnock
Succeeded by
Gilbert Boyd

1941 (MCMXLI)

was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1941st year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 941st year of the 2nd millennium, the 41st year of the 20th century, and the 2nd year of the 1940s decade.

Adam Marshall Diston

Adam Marshall Diston (1893–1956; born in Scotland) was a journalist for the Sunday Dispatch and ghostwriter for Winston Churchill. He had 'close affinities' to Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists. He had a military background, serving in a Scottish regiment from 1914-1918.

British Union of Fascists

The British Union of Fascists, or BUF, was a fascist political party in the United Kingdom formed in 1932 by Oswald Mosley. It changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists in 1936 and, in 1937, to British Union. It was finally disbanded in 1940, after it was proscribed by the British government following the start of the Second World War.

The BUF emerged in 1932 from the British far-right, following the electoral defeat of its antecedent, the New Party, in the 1931 general election. The BUF's foundation was initially met with popular support, and it attracted a sizeable following. The press baron Lord Rothermere was a notable early supporter. As the party became increasingly radical, however, support declined. The Olympia Rally of 1934, in which a number of anti-Fascist protestors were attacked by the paramilitary wing of the BUF, the Fascist Defence Force, isolated the party from much of its following. The party's embrace of Nazi-style anti-semitism in 1936 led to increasingly violent clashes with opponents, notably the 1936 Battle of Cable Street in London's East End. The Public Order Act 1936, which banned political uniforms and responded to increasing political violence, had a particularly strong effect on the BUF whose supporters were known as "Blackshirts" after the uniforms they wore.

Growing British hostility towards Nazi Germany, with which the British press persistently associated the BUF, further contributed to the decline of the movement's membership. It was finally banned by the British government in 1940 after the start of the Second World War, amid suspicion that its remaining supporters might form a pro-Nazi "fifth column". A number of prominent BUF members were arrested and interned under Defence Regulation 18B.


Crimonmogate is an estate near Crimond, Aberdeenshire. The estate formed part of Lonmay parish, dates back to the 14th century, and was included in the lands owned by the powerful Earls of Erroll. The estate was sold by Mary Hay, 14th Countess of Erroll, in the 1730s.

Major development commenced when the land was owned by the merchant Patrick Milne in the late 18th and early 19th-centuries and the estate is now most famous for Crimonmogate House, designed by the Aberdeen architect Archibald Simpson for Milne. The Greek Revival building is protected as a category A listed building and the grounds are included on the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes in Scotland.

After Milne's death the estate passed to the Bannerman family, who continued to develop the lands and completed the construction of the mansion, also adding a mansard roof later. Simpson was commissioned to design further structures within the estate. Eventually, through marriage in the 20th century, the estate returned to the Errolls. Almost at the turn of that century, in 1996, the estate was purchased by Christopher Monckton, who began restoration work on the mansion. As a publicity stunt, Monckton falsely claimed in 2000 that he was having to offer it for sale to pay prize money after the Eternity puzzle was solved years sooner than anticipated. In 2001 the estate was bought by a former Chanel model and her husband, Viscount Petersham, who continued the renovation work and use the property as a function and wedding facility although bookings for weddings were discontinued at the end of 2016.

Errol Trzebinski

Errol Trzebinski (born 24 June 1936 in Gloucester), is a British writer. She lives and works in Lamu Island, Kenya. Her son is the painter Tonio Trzebinski, who was murdered in Kenya in 2001.

Trzebinski is an author of books on prominent individuals in the history of colonial Kenya including Silence Will Speak: A Study of the Life of Denys Finch Hatton and His Relationship With Karen Blixen (1977); The Kenya Pioneers: The Frontiersmen of an Adopted Land (1985); The Lives of Beryl Markham: Out of Africa's Hidden Free Spirit and Denys Finch Hatton's Last Great Love (1993); and The Life and Death of Lord Erroll: The Truth Behind the Happy Valley Murder (2000).

Her book Silence Will Speak was a source for the script of the 1985 Hollywood movie Out of Africa. Her late husband Sbish Trzebinski appears as a drunkard in the film and is slapped by Meryl Streep when he insults her.

Fascism in Africa

Fascism in Africa refers to the phenomenon of fascist parties and movements that were active in Africa.

Football Lads Alliance

The Football Lads Alliance (FLA) is a movement in the United Kingdom founded by John Meighan in 2017. According to The Times, "the movement was set up as a self-proclaimed 'anti-extremist' movement" but has increasingly become associated with far-right politics and far-right activists.The Premier League has warned clubs that "the group is using fans and stadiums to push an anti-Muslim agenda". Concern has also been expressed that the Alliance is "giving cover to the far right" and "uses a secret Facebook page full of violent, racist and misogynistic posts".

Gwladys, Lady Delamere

Gwladys Helen Cholmondeley, Baroness Delamere, CBE (née Beckett; 1897 – 22 February 1943), formerly Lady Charles Markham, was the second female Mayor of Nairobi from 1938 to 1940. She was awarded her CBE in 1941 for public services in Kenya. In March 1941 she gave evidence at the trial in Kenya of Sir Henry John Delves Broughton for the murder of Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll. She died on 22 February 1943 and was buried at Soysambu.

Happy Valley set

The Happy Valley set was a group of hedonistic, largely British and Anglo-Irish aristocrats and adventurers who settled in the "Happy Valley" region of the Wanjohi Valley, near the Aberdare mountain range, in colonial Kenya and Uganda between the 1920s and the 1940s. In the 1930s, the group became infamous for its decadent lifestyles and exploits, following reports of drug use and sexual promiscuity.The area around Naivasha was one of the first to be settled in Kenya by white people and was one of the main hunting grounds of the 'set'. The colonial town of Nyeri, Kenya, to the east of the Aberdare Range, was the centre of Happy Valley settlers.In recent years, descendants of the Happy Valley set have been appearing in the news, particularly the legal troubles of Tom Cholmondeley, the great-grandson of Lord Delamere.

Some of the notable members of the Happy Valley set were: The 3rd Baron Delamere and his son and heir The 4th Baron Delamere; Denys Finch Hatton; Sir Jock Delves Broughton and wife Diana Delves Broughton; The 22nd Earl of Erroll; Lady Idina Sackville; Alice de Janzé (cousin of J. Ogden Armour) and her husband Frédéric de Janzé.

Jock Delves Broughton

Sir Henry John Delves Broughton, 11th Baronet DL (10 September 1883 – 5 December 1942) was a British baronet who is chiefly known for standing trial for the murder of Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll. The event was the basis of the film White Mischief.

Kiki Preston

Kiki Preston, née Alice Gwynne (1898 – December 23, 1946), was an American socialite, a member of the Happy Valley set, and the alleged mother of a child born out of wedlock with Prince George, Duke of Kent, fourth son of King George V. Known for her drug addiction, which earned her the sobriquet "the girl with the silver syringe", she was a fixture of the Paris and New York high social circles, and a relation to the powerful Vanderbilt and Whitney families. Her life was marred by several tragic losses and her own mental problems, which eventually led to her suicide at 48.

Lady Idina Sackville

Lady Myra Idina Sackville (26 February 1893 – 5 November 1955) was an English aristocrat and member of the Happy Valley set. Her behaviour and lifestyle scandalised middle class society.

Merlin Hay, 24th Earl of Erroll

Merlin Sereld Victor Gilbert Hay, 24th Earl of Erroll (born 20 April 1948) is a crossbench member of the House of Lords, Chief of the Scottish clan Hay, and hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland.


for the Kenyan football club see Oserian F.C..Oserian (Masai, "Place of Peace"; locally, The Gin Palace; later, Djinn Palace) is a flower farm on the south shores of Lake Naivasha, Nakuru County, Kenya. It is Africa's largest rose producer.

Oserian's wildlife corridor is more than 1.6 km (1 mi) in width through its property with reaches to the lake; it occupies more than 6 km (4 mi) of shoreline.

Sharon Ebanks

Sharon Elizabeth Ebanks (born 1967 or 1968) is a former member of the British National Party and one of the founder members of the New Nationalist Party. In 2006, she was wrongly declared elected to Birmingham City Council.

The Link (UK organization)

The Link was established in July 1937 as an 'independent non-party organisation to promote Anglo-German friendship'. It generally operated as a cultural organisation, although its journal, the Anglo-German Review, reflected the pro-Nazi views of Barry Domvile, and particularly in London it attracted a number of anti-semites and pro-Nazis. At its height the membership numbered around 4,300.

The Link was opposed to war between Britain and Germany, and because of this attracted the support of some British pacifists. When The Link and the Anglo-German Review were included among a number of peace organisations across the political spectrum in the Peace Service Handbook (a publication put out by the Peace Pledge Union), the Daily Telegraph and The News Chronicle published articles accusing the PPU of supporting Nazism. In response, PPU member Stuart Morris wrote to the papers stating there was no connection between the PPU and The Link, and that the former organisation did not support the German demand for colonies or peace at the expense of smaller nations. The PPU also sent a letter to its group leaders dissociating The Link from the PPU, and ceased publishing the Peace Service Handbook.The organisation was investigated by Maxwell Knight, head of counter-subversion in MI5 and future role model for James Bond's boss M. The organisation closed shortly after the start of World War II in 1939.

Barry Domvile was interned in 1940 as someone who might "endanger the safety of the realm".According to Anthony Masters, the Link was allegedly resurrected in 1940 by Ian Fleming, then working in the Department of Naval Intelligence, in order to successfully lure Rudolf Hess (deputy party leader and third in leadership of Germany, after Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring) to Britain in May 1941.

The World's Greatest Unsolved Crimes

The World's Greatest Unsolved Crimes is a book written by Roger Boar and Nigel Blundell which was first published in 1984 by Octopus Books Limited as part of their World's Greatest series. It contains accounts of various unsolved mysteries such as murders, unexplained disappearances and scandals.

Victor Hay, 21st Earl of Erroll

Victor Alexander Sereld Hay, 21st Earl of Erroll and 4th Baron Kilmarnock, KCMG (17 October 1876 – 20 February 1928), was a British diplomat, a writer and briefly a member of the House of Lords.

White Mischief

White Mischief may refer to:

White Mischief is a 1982 novel by James Fox that dramatizes the events around the 1941 murder in Kenya of Josslyn Hay (22nd Earl of Erroll), a notable member of Kenya's (white) Happy Valley set.

White Mischief is a 1988 film based on Fox's book.

Outside of Africa, the 1996 murder of Maria Magdalene "Ria" Wolmarans by Mariette Bosch was called the "White Mischief of Botswana," a comparison to Hay's murder (above).

White Mischief is a brand of Indian vodka and brandy launched in 1996.

White Mischief is a steampunk-themed indoor festival, first organized in London in 2007.

Ancestors of Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll
16. William Hay, 18th Earl of Erroll (1801 - 1846)
8. William Harry Hay, 19th Earl of Erroll (1823 - 1891)
17. Lady Elizabeth FitzClarence (1801 - 1856)
4. Charles Hay, 20th Earl of Erroll (1852 - 1927)
18. Gen. the Hon. Sir Charles Gore, KH, GCB (1793 – 1869)
9. Eliza Amelia Gore (1829 - 1916)
19. Sarah Rachel Fraser (1824 - 1880)
2. Victor Hay, 21st Earl of Erroll (1876 - 1928)
20. Col. Henry Peisley L'Estrange, of Moystown (1776 - 1824)
10. Edmund L'Estrange (1813 - 1866)
21. Grace Burdett
5. Mary Caroline L'Estrange (1849 - 1934)
22. Frederick Lumley-Savile (1788 - 1837)
11. Harriet Susan Beresford Lumley-Savile (1823 - 1904)
23. Charlotte De la Poer-Beresford ( - 1851)
1. Josslyn Hay, 22nd Earl of Erroll
24. George Mackenzie (1773 - 1852)
12. Sir James Thompson Mackenzie, 1st Baronet, of Glen Muick (1818 – 1890)
25. Margaret Allan ( - 1851)
6. Sir Allan Russell Mackenzie, 2nd Baronet, of Glen Muick (1850 – 1906)
26. Charles Du Pré Russell (1795 - 1878)
13. Mary Russell (1824 - 1912)
27. Mary Anne Raynsford (1793 - 1831)
3. Lucy Mackenzie (1875 - 1957)
28. Henry Davidson, of Tulloch Castle (1771 - 1827)
14. Duncan Davidson, of Tulloch Castle (1800 – 1881), MP
29. Caroline Elizabeth Diffell
7. Lucy Eleanora Davidson (1859 – 1926)
30. John Mackenzie (1803 - 1886) (son of Sir Hector, 4th Bt, of Gairloch)
15. Mary Mackenzie (1827 - 1867)
31. Mary Jane Inglis (1804 - 1897)

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