Many a man was hanged in Victorian times who today would be judged insane. Such was John Kington, 22. He suffered nightmares in which he saw himself being hanged. He believed he and his wife Elizabeth, 20, were having an incestuous affair and threatened to cut her throat. When she took him to court in exasperation, he was sent to prison for three months, where he had recurring fits.

On his release he met Elizabeth in the street in Coventry, where they lived, frogmarched her to a field on the edge of the city, and cut her throat, nearly severing her head and ripping out her windpipe.

At his trial at Warwick Assizes he didn’t even bother to plead insanity, so he was hanged on Friday, December 30th, 1859, outside Warwick Prison, before a crowd of 500 who came to watch the end of a madman. Victorian murder stories from True Crime Library.

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