Fifteen-year-old Emma Rolfe met Robert Browning, 25, on Midsummer Common, Cambridge, and told him: “You can have sex with me, but it will cost you a shilling.”

Despite her age, Emma was a full-time prostitute, working from a brothel in the Maids Causeway, in Cambridge city centre, then a notorious red-light district.

Browning, a tailor, agreed to pay her a shilling, but claimed that during the sexual act he caught her stealing money from him. At that, he cut her throat, and then went off for a drink. Emma’s body was found later with her head almost severed.

He was sentenced to death at Norwich Assizes on November 24th, 1876, and hanged on Thursday, December 14th, 1876, in Cambridge Prison. In the death cell he confessed that Emma had not tried to steal his money. “I wanted to kill someone, and I hate prostitutes,” he said. Victorian murder stories from True Crime Library.

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