“She was pregnant by another man, and she tried to say it was me!” This was the excuse James Williams, 24, a tailor, gave to police after he pushed his girl friend Edith Bagnal, 23, into a canal at Tixall near Stafford in December 1880. They had been to a servants’ fair in Stafford and he admitted he’d had too much to drink.

His plea of manslaughter on the grounds of provocation failed at Stafford Assizes the following month and, found guilty of murdering Edith, he was hanged on Tuesday, February 22nd, 1881, at Stafford Prison.