21 October 1875 – William Smedley
You don’t want to mess with a man who makes knives for a living, as Elizabeth Firth found out the hard way.
She was the common-law wife of one William Smedley, a Sheffield man who made blades to earn an honest crust. But it turned out that there wasn’t much of a crust to be had and his partner was so sick of the hand-to-mouth existence that she kicked him out one night.
Well, they’d been drinking and Smedley, with no prospect of a roof over his head, just lost it, pulled a razor blade out and, in a fit of passion, slit Firth’s throat. According to researcher Gregg Manning, it was done with such violence that Smedley nigh-on decapitated her.
That sure did sober him up, and he carted himself off down the police station pretty sharpish.
Smedley’s guilt was never in question, but the date of his extermination certainly has been up for grabs. Some sources reckon the 50-year-old was despatched at Leeds on 21 October 1875, while others state it took place exactly two months later in December.
The jury’s out on that one, so we’ll keep researching, but, in the meantime, if you have any definitive answers, please feel free to get in touch.