“Let me warn you all of the demon drink!” proclaimed Thomas Williams, 29, as he stood on the scaffold outside York Prison on Saturday, August 12th, 1837. The crowd, said to be “disappointingly small,” who had come to watch him hang, made no discernible response.

Williams killed a workmate, Thomas Froggart, in a ferocious attack at the little factory in Silver Street, Sheffield, where they were both employed as basket makers. Williams, who certainly had a drink problem, had been fired by the factory-owner, and believed Froggart was after his work. He stabbed Froggart with a sharpened billhook used to cut willows, then embedded it in his skull.

While another work colleague ran screaming into the street, Williams calmly walked off to the Windsor Castle pub, had a drink, and waited for the police.

Froggart took three weeks to die from his head wounds. Williams was convicted at York Assizes, and his execution was the first to be held in England during the reign of Queen Victoria.