On the evening of OCTOBER 4th, 1922, Percy Thompson and his wife Edith went to a theatre in Londons West End. He was a 32-year-old shipping clerk, she was 28, the manageress of a millinery firm in the City, and it was just after midnight when they left their train and began the short walk to their home in Ilford.
A few minutes later a man emerged from the shadows, brushed Edith aside, stabbed Percy to death, and disappeared. Whatever shall I do? Edith was heard crying. My husband has fallen and cut his head!
Detectives questioned her, and on the following day she admitted she had a lover, Frederick Bywaters, a 20-year-old ships steward. A bloodstained knife found in a nearby drain was proved to be his, and a search of his belongings revealed passionate letters from Edith in which she called him darlint and fantasised about killing her husband.
The lovers were charged with murder, and at their trial Bywaters claimed that Edith had nothing to do with it. But the prosecutor accused her of incitement, reading out a letter to Bywaters in which she had written: Yes, darlint, you are jealous of him, but I want you to be. He has the right by law to all that you have the right to by nature and love. Yes, darlint, be jealous, so much that you will do something desperate.
Both were convicted and sentenced to death, but almost to the last minute the public expected Edith to be reprieved. She shared that belief herself, but on January 9th, 1923, she was carried semi-conscious to the scaffold at Holloway Prison to be hanged by John Ellis. At the same time Bywaters was hanged at Pentonville by William Willis and Seth Mills.