The date Saturday, September 12th, 1863, was unique in Liverpool’s criminal history – a day when four criminals sentenced for four separate crimes were all publicly hanged together outside Kirkdale Prison before what a contemporary report described as “an immense assemblage of men, women and children.”

Jose Alvarez, a Spanish sailor, was sentenced for stabbing to death a passer-by, James Harrison, who had stopped to remonstrate with him for knifing another passer-by. Alvarez had been drinking with two other sailors in the Old Hall Street area of the docks, and after the fatal stabbing he wiped the blood off his knife on the skirt of a woman witness.

Sharing the scaffold with him were John Hughes, 51, who kicked his wife to death in Great Homer Street, Everton; James O’Brien, 26, an Irish sailor who stabbed to death a brothel madam in Spitalfields, and Benjamin Thomas, 24, a Welsh sailor who beat his landlady to death with a piece of wood in Old Hall Street.