Mr. Baggot was “Uncle” to hundreds of poor folk in Bilston, Staffordshire. He was the oldest established pawnbroker in the town in the mid-19th century, a time when many people were in need of his services. One Saturday evening in 1862 he counted the day’s takings, locked up the cash, lit a big cigar and went upstairs to the flat over the premises where he lived.

In the dead of that night three colliers staggered out of a pub and broke into “Uncle’s.” Their intention was to rob the place, but Mr. Baggot woke up and confronted them. One of the three, David Brandrick, struggled with the old pawnbroker, finally strangling him by pressing a poker down on his throat. Then all three fled in a panic.

The evidence of a constable who remembered seeing the three men, whom he knew, walking along a deserted street that night, was sufficient to have them arrested. They were kept in separate cells and interrogated incessantly – third-degree tactics that wouldn’t be allowed today. After a time one of them, Israel Jones, cracked and implicated the other two.

All three stood trial and were sentenced to death. But only Brandrick went to the gallows. The other two were reprieved – a fact Brandrick discovered only as he walked to the scaffold at 8 a.m. on Sunday, January 4th, 1863, and saw only one noose dangling.

“Why me? Why have I got to die alone?” he screamed, falling on his knees. The hangman, George “Throttler” Smith, was a man of few words. He placed the noose around Brandrick’s neck, muttered “Goodbye” – and launched him into eternity.