Moses Hatto was executed outside Buckinghamshire county jail at Aylesbury on the morning of Friday 24 March 1854, for the murder of Mary Ann Spurgeon. Spurgeon was the housekeeper of yeoman farmer Ralph Goodwin in the village of Burnham, where Hatto was also employed as a groom. Although the two servants had worked together for only a matter of months, a deep-seated enmity appears to have developed between them. One dark evening Spurgeon and Hatto quarrelled for the very last time. Hatto was incensed by the meagre supper put out for him by the housekeeper and, in his own words, ‘the devil came to him’. Hatto lashed out at Spurgeon with a large kitchen iron, knocking her out, after which he ‘smashed her brains out’.
This broadside from the time of Hatto’s execution is typical of such publications of the period in the way it details the crime in all its vivid detail. In particular it explains how Hatto attempted to dispose of his victim’s body by setting fire to the bed on which it lay. At the crime scene bloody hand marks were noted across the walls and witnesses noted how ‘both legs had been burnt off nearly close to the trunk’.