When 21-year-old Elizabeth Poynton arrived to start work at her new job in Sloane Street, Chelsea, the rest of the staff drew in their breath in wonder. For the new girl was strikingly beautiful – “a well-formed young female with prepossessing buxom features” was the Victorian language used in a contemporary report to describe her.

Elizabeth had joined the domestic staff of a local magistrate as a servant girl and the first man to make a play for her was William Marchant, 18, an under-footman. He told the rest of the staff that she was in love with him.

This was far from the case, for when he tried to kiss her in the kitchen when she was alone she resisted. Undeterred, he began beating her, and tried to pull off her clothes. She shouted “Murder!” and fought back with all her strength, whereupon, to silence her, he cut her throat with his razor.

Marchant fled, and when police viewed Elizabeth’s body in the kitchen they thought at first it was suicide. Other clues, though, suggested murder, and Marchant as the killer. Two days later, he surrendered to a mounted police patrol at Hounslow Heath. He pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey and was hanged on Monday, July 8th, 1839, outside Newgate, after confessing in the death cell that he had an urge to “violate” Elizabeth.