Life was just one long argument in the Crawley household in Wells Street, Stratford, east London, in 1857. The last row, all over a penny’s worth of nails, ended up in murder, when Michael Crawley, 62, hit his wife Mary 20 times over the head with an axe.

Her daughter found her body on a bed, with the brains hanging out.

Crawley’s son John observed to his father: “You should have hit her with your fists, not with the axe.”

Michael Crawley gave himself up after wandering around Barking Marshes for 24 hours. At his trial in July 1847, his counsel suggested the proper verdict should be manslaughter, as Crawley had attacked his wife in a frenzy whipped up by her “passionate” character.

The judge rejected this, telling the jury that Mrs. Crawley could not have provoked the defendant. Crawley was hanged on Friday, July 23rd, 1847, outside Chelmsford Prison, after the Home Office rejected a mercy recommendation based on his advanced age.