While his seven children looked on, Henry Devlin, 45, furiously beat his wife Elizabeth to death at their home at Shotts, Lanarkshire, and for that, on September 2nd, 1890, he was sentenced at Glasgow High Court to hang.

It was said that on the 90-yard walk to the gallows at Glasgow’s Duke Street Prison on Tuesday, September 23rd, 1890, he had to be held upright by prison officers. After executioner James Berry pulled the lever and the trap fell, officials were horrified to hear snorting noises coming from the pit. The drop, at only four feet, had been much too short. It failed to break Devlin’s neck and he died in agony from strangulation.

None of this was reported at the time, because it had become standard practice to record that all executions passed off without incident, and that death was “instantaneous.”