“Mary has been permanently drunk for more than six months, “ James Trickett, 42, told the police as they gazed down at the dead body of his wife on Boxing Day, 1877. “She fell down the stairs and banged her head.”

The neighbours had a different view of how Mary, 35, died. “They had non-stop rows,” one of them said. “He was the one who was always drunk, and he was always beating her up.”

After further questioning Trickett, who was described as a bird-catcher and owner of a pet shop in Hopwood Street in the Vauxhall area of Liverpool, agreed there had been a scuffle. The post-mortem revealed more than a scuffle – there was a stab wound under Mary’s left breast and extensive bruising all over her body.

Trickett pleaded guilty to manslaughter at his trial at Liverpool Assizes in January, 1878, but was found guilty of murder. The Home Office ignored the jury’s recommendation for mercy and he was hanged on Tuesday, February 12th, 1878, at Kirkdale Prison.