Ethel Baxter lived from 22 October 1884 to 16 August 1963. She was a businesswoman who for 25 years until the Second World War did much to lay the foundations that underpin the transformation of Baxters Food Group into the international company it has since become. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Etheldreda Adam was born at Roseisle near Burghead in Moray, the daughter of a farmer. Ethel became a nurse and in November 1914 married William Baxter, who she had met while caring for him during an illness. William was the son of George and Margaret Baxter, who since 1868 had run a grocery shop in Fochabers where Margaret made highly successful jams and jellies. Shortly before William and Ethel's marriage, George and Margaret had purchased land from the Duke of Gordon on which they built a jam factory. Ethel quickly became an indispensable part of the family business, overseeing production and devising new recipes while William became chief salesman.
Under Ethel's guidance, Baxters diversified into the production of an ever increasing range of canned soups. In 1929 they launched their "Royal Game Soup", which rapidly established itself as one of the company's leading products. Ethel also led the way in devising methods for canning soft fruit. Before long their ever-growing list of retail customers included Harrods and Fortnum & Mason's in London.
The company survived the Second World War, largely by producing jam for the armed forces. After the war, Ethel & William's sons, Gordon and Ian, took over the running of the business. In 1952, in a remarkable repetition of history, Gordon Baxter married Ena Robertson, who entered the family business and went on to play a major role in the marketing of Baxter's products in the United States. Since 1992 the company has been run by their daughter, and Ethel's grand daughter, Audrey. Ethel herself died in Elgin in 1963 at the age of 79.