“She killed herself when she tried to wrestle my knife off me,” John Whitworth, a 22-year-old farm labourer, told police when they found the body of his girl friend, Sally Hare, 18, in a field at Dinnington, south Yorkshire. “It was an accident. She never liked me carrying a knife.”

As Sally, a servant girl, had had her throat cut, the police understandably didn’t believe him. Whitworth, advised to reconsider his story after his arrest for her murder, finally confessed to killing her during an argument about her being too friendly with another man. He added that on the night of the murder Sally had rejected his sexual demands.

He was hanged at 12 noon on Saturday, January 8th, 1859, outside York Prison before a crowd estimated at between four and five thousand.