“I can’t be hanged, my lord,” 28-year-old Ann Wycherley told Baron Gurney at Stafford Assizes in March 1838, when she was about to be sentenced to death. “I am with child.”

The judge slowly removed his black cap. “Very well,” he said, “you will be respited until May, when due note will be taken of your condition.”

But on May 5th the game was up for Ann. She wasn’t pregnant and, told that she was doomed, she was reconciled to her fate and hanged on Saturday, May 5th, 1838, outside Stafford Prison.

Ann was convicted of killing her three-year-old child at Chipnall Mill. There was a determined effort to save her from the gallows because it was believed that someone else had incited her and that she was “simple.” But when the Home Secretary, Lord John Russell, made inquiries, he was assured that she knew exactly what she was doing, and he refused to intervene.