What to do about a partner you no longer like? Fanny Gilligan, a skivvy in a slum in Leopold Street, Sparkbrook, Birmingham, came up with a terrifying answer.

When her partner James Higgins came home from the pub dead drunk on Saturday, SEPTEMBER 16th, 1911, and ordered her to pull off his boots, she poured a pint of paraffin down his legs and put a match to them.

A few minutes later Higgins’s brother came into the house and, unable to do anything, watched his brother being burned alive. A demented Fanny was discovered cowering in the outside wash-house, a bottle of beer in her hand.

She told a neighbour, “He kicked me with his hobnailed boot. He was always beating me.” And she told the police, “It was wilful murder. I meant to do it and I done it. I would do it again. I don’t care if I swing for it.”

She was sentenced to death at Birmingham Assizes but she didn’t “swing for it.” She was reprieved and given life imprisonment instead.