None of the girls of the village of Tingewick could count themselves safe when the local tailor was around. William Stevens, 24, had completed two years of training in London, and while he was there he had learned a few other things too. Back at Tingewick he was the centre of continuing scandals.

On St. Valentine’s Day, 1864, he sent his 17-year-old next-door neighbour Annie Leeson two presents. Annie shuddered – she detested the upstart tailor. Stevens began muttering dark threats about her to his friends, but no one thought fit to warn Annie.

A fortnight after St. Valentine’s Day, Stevens spotted Annie at the village pump. He picked up his razor, ran outside, and slit her throat with two deep cuts. She staggered to the nearby shop where she worked, and fell dying there.

Stevens then cut his own throat in the street but was saved by the prompt action of his mother. His recovery took months – it was July before he was brought to the county assizes for trial. He was hanged on Friday, August 5th, 1864, before a crowd of 4,000 outside Aylesbury Prison.

It was said of him in the death cell that “he frequently referred to his crime in terms of the greatest apparent sorrow, and acknowledged the enormity of his offence and the justice of his sentence.”