Arthur Birkett was 22. He was a weaver at Jubilee Mill, living in Riley Street. His father was dead and he lived with mother, grandmother and little sister. His brother had recently emigrated to Canada.
The newspaper photograph, presumambly taken when Birkett was a young boy, shows an anxious face with a suggestion of truculence about it and with something petulant about the bottom lip.
We know a little more about Birkett from his behaviour during his trial. It's hard not to get the impression that he felt ennobled by his 'love,' hard too not to get the impression that people took him at his own estimation. Over 50,000 signed the petition for a reprieve, including Alice Beetham's mother, though not her father. Hard to detect any real remorse, let alone any real love for Alice. He gave her her chance. She stubbornly refused, so she had to pay.
There must be something darker there though. It takes real savagery to decapitate someone with a razor. There must have been something monstrous in his psyche. It is said he was glad not to get a reprieve and went to his death with fortitude. He must have known there was that within him that he could not live with.
Was his death a release for him? He wrote from Strangeways that he hoped to be united with Alice in heaven, where presumambly she would have seen the error of her ways and repented. No doubt she rushed into his arms with joy, when he entered through the pearly gates, anxious to be forgiven for her silliness.
"There's only one girl for me..."
"You look crammed... what's to do?"
"She died almost instantly"
Birkett found guilty of murder
Souvenir napkins were sold
Account of the Murder by relation of Alice Beetham: Louise McGarry