A former railwayman, William Alfred Hancocks, 35, worked as a sheriff’s officer, living in lodgings in Birkenhead with his wife and children, excepting his 15-year-old daughter Mary, who was a housemaid living in the home of her employers.

On MARCH 23rd, 1905, however, Mary came home to spend the night with her parents. Hancocks was drunk, and his wife went out, leaving him with the children, and shortly afterwards neighbours were alarmed when they heard a commotion, followed by a scream.

On going to the house they found Hancocks attempting to strangle Mary, and when Mrs. Hancocks returned, Mary complained that her father had tried to rape her. She and her mother then went to stay with a neighbour, only to be brought back by Hancocks who then stabbed Mary in the temple and fled, attempting suicide by jumping into the River Mersey.

Pulled from the water, he shared the ambulance which took Mary to hospital, where she died shortly afterwards.

At his trial at Chester Assizes for his daughter’s murder the jury heard that Mary had died during an operation to stop a brain haemorrhage. Hancocks pleaded insanity, but doctors said they had found him to be sane, and he was sentenced to death.

He then turned out to be a bigamist, writing to both his wives from the condemned cell. He had also earlier lost an arm in a railway accident, and the hangman Henry Pierrepoint prepared a special pinion strap for Hancocks’s execution at Knutsford on August 1st, 1905.