Poison was the method chosen by William Samuels, 24, of Welshpool, to kill. During the late spring of 1886 Samuels, a market trader, fell behind with his payments on an account he had with a wholesale firm called Debac and Sheaff, who supplied him with tea and other groceries.

When the debt reached seven pounds and eleven shillings, the firm’s manager, William Mabbots, began to press for payment. Samuels gradually repaid by instalments until by Monday, JUNE 14th he had reduced the debt to a mere 16 shillings.

That June afternoon, for no reason that was immediately apparent, Samuels went into Debac and Sheaff’s premises with a jug of ale and gave it to Mabbots. The manager drank up, unaware that Samuels had laced the beer with strychnine. Within an hour Mabbots collapsed in agony on the shop floor and by seven o’clock that evening he was dead.

For a murder which he had constantly denied and which seemed desperately short of a real motive, Samuels was hanged at Shrewsbury on July 26th, 1886. If some had any doubts about his guilt they were finally allayed in the death cell, when he confessed to the killing but was still unable to say why he did it…