Mid-century life seemed hard for two Irish brothers, Michael and Peter Scanlane, aged 25 and 22 respectively, when they came from County Mayo to start jobs in a lime works in Fife in Scotland. They asked Margaret Maxwell, 66, who lived near the lime works, if she would lend them some money, but the old lady flatly refused.

So, along with another Irishman, Thomas McManus, they decided to rob her instead.

One night in February 1852, the brothers and McManus dragged Mrs. Maxwell out of bed, stole a few coins and trinkets, and smashed in her skull before leaving.

When all three were arrested, McManus, while admitting his part in the murder, wasn’t charged with the capital crime and testified against the two brothers. The Scanlanes were hanged on Monday, July 5th, 1852, outside Cupar Prison on a scaffold brought from Edinburgh.

It had been 20 years since the last execution in the town, and a crowd of 10,000 came to watch. A contemporary report described the event as “one of the great days in Cupar’s long history.”