You might expect that three labourers who slept in the hayloft of the farm where they worked would get on well together, especially at harvesting time, when a day’s work was a day’s hard work. But Thomas Cruise, Bernard Mullarkey and the other man were constantly at each other’s throats.

“I’ll burn this place down and hang for Cruise!” declared Mullarkey, who was only 19. A couple of days later the hayloft, at a farm in Maghull, north Liverpool, caught fire, and when the blaze burned out police found the blackened body of 53-year-old Cruise in the embers.

A blow to the head had felled him before the fire started, and no one had any doubts about who was responsible. A witness said that Mullarkey told Cruise to go and sleep in another part of the barn. There was a row, Mullarkey started the fire, and then knocked down Cruise when the older man tried to put out the blaze, leaving him to be burned alive.

Mullarkey was hanged on Monday, December 4th, 1882, in Liverpool’s Kirkdale Prison. Victorian murder stories from True Crime Library.

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