Prisoners in Taunton Prison were paraded on the morning of Wednesday, April 23rd, 1851, and ordered to watch a double hanging immediately outside the wall, as a deterrent.

On the scaffold were John Smith, 32, and John Wiles, 56, who attacked Mr. and Mrs. William Wilkins, septuagenarian owners of a general store in Nempnett village, Somerset, with a spade and an iron bar, and then stole money, tobacco and food from the shop. Mr. Wilkins was killed during the raid.

A neighbour saw the men leaving the shop and followed their footprints to a pub in the nearby village of Blagdon before informing the local constable. Smith and Wiles were convicted of Mr. Wilkins’ murder and their last moments provided a grandstand spectacle for the local prisoners.