22 July 1902 – William Churcher

A lovers’ tiff spiralled out of control when William Churcher killed his partner in April 1902.

The pair was heard arguing, but the spat ended sharply with a scream. Sophia Jane Hepworth was never seen alive again.

Churcher had slit her throat, but suspicion only fell on him when Hepworth failed to turn up for an appointment the next day.

He readily admitted the murder, however his defence remained extreme provocation. However no-one took a blind bit of notice and he was sentenced to death nevertheless.

William Billington did the honours all on his tod today in 1902, at Winchester – and Churcher made the execution hall of fame, after his was the first hanging for whom a bell tolled, rather than a black flag being hoisted.

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