When Robert Blake left his wife in Birmingham and together with his two children moved in with his long-time mistress, Harriet Parker, in St. Lukes, east London, he laid down his terms unequivocally.
I intend to sleep around as much as I like, he told Harriet. She evidently didnt think much of that, because when he went off on his own to a party on New Years Eve, 1847, she followed him. She caught up with him at the Duke of Bedford pub, where he began taunting her in front of his mates.
Ill get my own back, youll see! Harriet cried. The men laughed. They had heard her say it all so many times before.
She left the pub and at four oclock in the morning went to a neighbours house. Ive done it! she exclaimed. Ive got my own back. Ive suffocated his kids in their bed. Ive killed them both.
When the constable arrived Harriet said: I planned it. I hope Ill be transported for life.
A worse fate than that awaited her. She was sentenced to death at the Old Bailey and hanged on Tuesday, February 22nd, 1848, outside Newgate Prison before an immense crowd which behaved badly.
A newspaper report observed: The wretched womans struggles were for some time dreadful in the extreme.