21 December 1875 – William Smedley

What can you do but hand yourself on when you’ve nigh on decapitated your common-law wife. So William Smedley thought after he took a cut-throat razor to Elizabeth Firth.

The 50-year-old was unemployed after he was prematurely retired from his job making knives when his eyesight started to wane.

Sick of the ensuing hand-to-mouth existence, his former partner Firth wanted out and moved into a new home. But Smedley had a hard time letting go.

Following a session down the pub, randy old Smedders walked his estranged partner to her home in the hope of an altogether different kind of session.

Thinking he’d get into her knickers that night, Smedley found out he was sadly mistaken when the fiesty Firth refused. Driven by frustrated rage he promptly grabbed a razor he just happened to have in his pocket and slit her head virtually right off.

Without hesitation Smedley then took himself off down the police station to hand himself in.

The Yorkshire man was found guilty of murder and incarcerated at Queen Victoria’s pleasure until he was hanged by Victorian executioner Thomas Askern at Leeds.

Also on this day

21 December 1929 – Peter Kudzinowski

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