The Wiltshire village of Lyneham was hit by a one-man crime wave in the 1830s. The solo ringleader was George Maslen, 34, a hard-drinking man and a notorious poacher.

On January 17th, 1838, he lay in ambush for Farmer Bryan Rumbold returning from market, and shot the farmer in the arm as he rode by.

Maslen was the prime suspect, but when police raided his home they found evidence only of recent poaching, for which he was jailed for 12 months. But in prison two convicts said Maslen had confessed to them that he shot the farmer, intending only to scare his horse so that he could rob him.

He was questioned by police, and charged with the then capital crime of attempted murder. A crowd of more than 20,000 watched as he was hanged on Thursday, September 6th, 1838, outside Devizes Prison. It was reported at the time that on the way to the gallows Maslen had “a complete mental breakdown and his bowels gave way.”