February 21, 1877
Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England
Richard Insole (24) is executed for the murder of his wife
Richard and his wife, Sarah Ann Insole (22), had reportedly been having marital difficulties for some time. Richard had recently served six weeks in prison for physically assaulting Sarah in July 1876, then refused to financially support her until a court summons forced him. Sarah left Richard and moved into her parents’ home, and reportedly became acquainted with one of Richard’s friends. Richard suspected infidelity on Sarah’s part and confronted her at her parents’ house, ostensibly to request she return to his house.
In early- to mid-January 1877, Richard visited his in-laws and told Sarah, “I want my answer.”
“If you go outside ten minutes,” Sarah replied, “I will give it to you.”
“No, that won’t do; I’ll have it now,” Richard demanded as he aimed a revolver at his wife. Sarah responded, “I’ll go back,” though Richard was not satisfied.
“I want another answer,” he said and mentioned a man’s name, presumably that of the man who had befriended Sarah. “Who is guilty; you or I?”
Richard shot at Sarah before she could answer. She managed to deflect the first shot by pushing Richard’s hand away as he fired, though he fired twice more, striking Sarah and causing her to slump to the floor. Sarah’s mother attempted to intervene but was pushed aside by Richard who then placed the revolver against Sarah’s left breast and fired two final shots, killing her instantly. Lastly, he took a knife and stabbed himself in the groin, for reasons that are not noted in newspapers.
Richard was immediately arrested. He was convicted of murder, though his jury recommended leniency based on the circumstances of his anger. Mr. Justice Field, who presided over the case, not only disregarded the recommendation but chastised the jurors for the suggestion. He stated: “I hope it will be a long time before English juries adopt a system which I believe is prevalent in some other countries of appending to their verdict a recommendation for mercy on the mere suggestion of infidelity unsupported by evidence.”
Slightly over a month after Sarah’s killing, Richard was hanged for her murder.
“Richard Insole.” True Crime Library. Accessed: February 21, 2020. https://www.truecrimelibrary.com/crimearticle/richard-insole/
Storey, Neil R. The Little Book of Murder. The History Press, 2013
“Execution at Lincoln.” Reynold’s Newspaper [London, England]. February 27, 1887
The York Herald. January 10, 1887 (image source, via newspapers.com)