By the standards of 1912 they were an odd couple. Edward “Sukie” Sewell, 30, a factory worker, had set up home with Polly Pursglove, who was six years older than he was, and they rowed night and day at the top of their voices, seven days a week.

Polly, a soldier’s wife whose husband had left her, had brought two of her children with her to the back-to-back house in Northall Street, Kettering, and she and Sukie were soon the talk of the neighbourhood.

Sukie was very odd, she told neighbours. He forbade her even to look at other men, and when she refused his stricture they fought.

It seemed she had an old sweetheart who inflamed Sewell’s jealousy. “If I catch him around here, I’ll bloody well do for you!” he thundered. Since it was a hot July evening and all the windows were open, half the street was listening in.

“If you don’t leave this house, I shall,” Polly screeched back at the same level of decibels. “I am not going to have my life threatened.”

For a while after that there was quiet in Northall Street. Then the neighbours heard a terrifying scream from the back-to-back. It came from Gladys, aged six, Polly’s youngest.

“Mama’s all over with blood!” she howled from the front door.

Neighbour Sarah Smith was first on the scene. In the upstairs bedroom she encountered so much blood that it was difficult to distinguish Polly’s clothes from the ruffled bedding. Mrs. Smith promptly fainted.

Polly Pursglove’s throat had been cut so deeply that she was almost decapitated. The cut had gone right through the base of her tongue, through the jugular vein and gullet, and chipped pieces off the front of the vertebra.

A few hours later “Sukie” Sewell was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. He had gone to bed that night with Polly, had sex with her, then after killing her he had gone to the Three Cocks in Northall Street, and from there on to the White Horse. A policeman found him collapsed across the doorstep of his mother-in-law’s house.

At the police station he mumbled, “I’ve murdered a girl tonight. I cut her bloody head off. I know I shall hang.”

At his trial at Northampton Assizes on Friday, OCTOBER 18th, 1912, it emerged that Sewell had a history of mental troubles dating from a cycling accident four years previously. The jury found him guilty of murder, but declared he was insane at the time.

He was ordered to be detained in a mental asylum, but despite his rather sordid life he possibly left a marginal note in the history books. For some researchers suggest he was the same Sukie who figures in the nursery rhyme Polly Put The Kettle On.