Suicide pacts that don’t work inevitably land the survivor on a murder charge, and such was the case when Joseph Parker, 24, a blacksmith, shot dead his girl friend Mary Meadows, 26, and then failed to find the courage to kill himself.

They had stayed up all night at her home in the Kingsthorpe area of Northampton, drinking, and arranging to die together. But after shooting her twice with a revolver, he claimed at his trial, “I hadn’t the heart to kill myself.”

Parker pleaded insanity following the revelation that he had tried to commit suicide on three previous occasions. He was hanged in Northampton Prison on Tuesday, July 11th, 1899, after the jury’s recommendation for mercy on the grounds of mental illness was rejected.

He confessed to a warder in the death cell that he had planned to murder Mary anyway, because in his view she was always looking at other men.