Samuel Middleton liked a drink, but it didn’t like him. After a few pints he would turn his rage on his wife Hannah, often threatening to kill her.

That’s how it was yet again on the evening of Saturday, MAY 10th, 1902, when Middleton came back from the pub to his cottage in Foxlydiate village, near Redditch, the worse for wear.

The neighbours heard raised voices, which was usual enough, then, metaphorically shrugging their shoulders, they went to sleep. But at 3 a.m. they woke to the smell of smoke. Samuel Middleton’s cottage was ablaze.

When the fire died down next day, firemen sifting through the debris found the charred body of Hannah Middleton. Where, they wondered, was her husband?

The answer was forthcoming later that day, when Samuel Middleton was found wandering on the road to Droitwich. Asked where he was going he replied, “Anywhere. I’ve killed my wife and they’ll soon catch me.”

They did catch him. He told them he had battered Hannah with a poker after a furious row. Realising she was dead, he set fire to the cottage in a bid to cover up what he had done. He was found guilty of murder at Worcester Assizes and hanged in July, 1902.