Frances Kidder

“Some horses came along and frightened us. We panicked, and my little Louisa fell into the river and drowned.” So claimed Mrs. Frances Kidder, 25, explaining the death of her stepdaughter Louisa Kidder-Staple, 12, at Cobb’s Bridge, New Romney, in August 1867. She and Louisa, together with one of her own children, were on their

Richard, Bridget and Honorah Stackpole

The younger members of the Stackpole family were brimming with jealous rage as one of their number, James, approached his 21st birthday. This would be the day when, under the terms of a dead relative’s will, he would come into an allowance of £65 a year, a sum that would make him the richest of

Mary Timney

The last woman to be publicly executed in Scotland screamed for mercy and fainted as she was dragged to the gallows to be hanged outside Dumfries Prison on Tuesday, April 29th, 1862. She was Mary Timney, 27, who beat to death her neighbour Ann Hannah, 40, because, she alleged, Miss Hannah had refused to lend

Thomas Hocker

When James de la Rue, 27, seduced a girl known only as Caroline and made her pregnant, he reckoned without her lover, Thomas Hocker, 21. Vowing vengeance, Hocker sent him a letter, purporting to come from Caroline, suggesting a midnight assignation in Belsize Park, Hampstead. When de la Rue arrived Hocker was waiting for him.

Charles Daines

One of the largest crowds ever for a hanging assembled to watch Charles Daines, 50, hanged outside Norwich Prison on Saturday, April 27th, 1839. The drop fell at noon, and Daines, a Methodist lay preacher and farm labourer, died “hard,” his body convulsing in agony. He had been found guilty of attempting to murder his

Joseph Brooks

On a cold January night at the end of his beat Constable William Davey, 43, heard muffled voices, went to investigate and recognised the thieves at once. They were two brothers, Joseph and Isaac Brooks, both well known to the police, and they were stealing timber from a building site. The culprits fled before Davey

Thomas Williams

“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

Augustus Hilton

Charlotte Hilton, daughter of a wealthy landowner and railway builder in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, made a disastrous marriage when she was only 20. After only two years she was fed up with her farmer husband Augustus’s ceaseless demands to borrow money from her. When he came home from a local market in March 1861, demanding still

Daniel Ward

The crowd of 9,000 who came to watch the last public execution in Belfast, on Wednesday, April 8th, 1863, remained deadly silent until the trap-door opened. Then, as one, they emitted a terrible scream, after which silence returned. The victim was Daniel Ward, 30, a carpenter, hanged for the murder the previous year of his

Frederick Prentice

I don’t want to go out with you any more,” 17-year-old Emma Coppins pleaded with her farm labourer suitor, Frederick Prentice, 20. “I’m much too young to think about marrying. And you’re too much for me with your pushy ways.” Emma, truth to tell, was at her wits’ end with his bothering. When he refused

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