14 March 1887 – Elizabeth Berry

Elizabeth BerryA penchant for dance and a shared moniker didn’t stop Elizabeth Berry being executed by her namesake, chief executioner James Berry on this day in 1887.

She was done for murder and, in doing so, became the very first person to be hanged at Walton prison in Liverpool.

The 31-year-old Lancashire lass had apparently poisoned her 11-year-old daughter as a means of pocketing the £10 life insurance payout. She may even have killed her husband as well, but the charges were dropped for whatever reason.

Berry was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.

Dead faint

It’s said that this was not the first time Berry had come face to face with her executioner. They are said to have danced together at a policeman’s ball held in Manchester just a few years previously.

James Berry paid her a visit the night before her execution and reassured her that the death would be quick and painless – and how right he was. It’s said that she fainted on the scaffold and was probably never aware of her execution.

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