I don’t want to go out with you any more,” 17-year-old Emma Coppins pleaded with her farm labourer suitor, Frederick Prentice, 20. “I’m much too young to think about marrying. And you’re too much for me with your pushy ways.”

Emma, truth to tell, was at her wits’ end with his bothering. When he refused to leave her alone, she quit her job as a barmaid in a pub at Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. Even then he wouldn’t see the senselessness of his pursuit. Refusing to take no for an answer, he waylaid her one evening in January 1859 and cut her throat with a razor in what was described as “a most fearful manner.”

Two months later he pleaded guilty to murder and at noon on Thursday, April 7th, 1859, he was hanged outside Maidstone Prison. The scene, it was reported, was attended by “a well-ordered crowd, despite there being many women and children from the lower classes.”

Prentice was very contrite. In the death cell he agreed that he deserved to forfeit his life for the murder.