It was acknowledged as being a fair fight - but only one survived and he was to be charged with manslaughter.

Late summer was not living up to its name and as blue skies gave way to teeming rain, hop pickers George Rice and Robert Martin repaired to the local pub.

At first, their conversation was convivial but slowly turned so rancorous they challenged each other to a fight on the village green.

The brawl lasted between 10 and 15 minutes, with the smaller Martin unsurprisingly coming off worse. Floored several times, he landed on his head more than once.

Eventually he gave in after a blow was delivered to his chest.

"I am done," he cried out.

They were his last words. Minutes later he crashed to the ground, dead.

A plasterer by trade, the 24-year-old had lived with his partner Emma Angliss for almost three years in Southampton until they went harvesting in the Hampshire countryside. That over, they moved to the hamlet Kingsley, near Alton, for the hop picking.

When it began raining, they went to the local to dry their clothing and get refreshments. Shortly afterwards, they were joined by Rice.

"I could not say what the quarrel was about as there were but few words between them," she told the County Coroner R Harfield at the inquest into Martin's death. "He lived for about five minutes after the last time he fell but did not speak."

The argument was overheard by blacksmith George Woolford but he did not know what it was specifically about.

"I saw them fighting and each fell several times but not without a blow being struck. It was a fair stand-up fight."

Labourer John Hedges concurred.

"It was a fair fight but I did see the deceased kick Rice twice while he was on the ground. In the last round, Rice struck him in the chest and he fell in consequence."

Martin's body was solemnly carried to the pub where it was examined by Dr John Wood who had ridden from Headley. His post-mortem revealed he had succumbed to concussion of the brain from the falls.

Arrested by Pc Grey, Rice protested his innocence.

"It was not my fault. Twas no more fault that his. The bloody monkey ought not to have fought me."

In his summing up, Harfield told jurors the old English way of fighting had long been regarded as the best mode to settle a quarrel.

"But I must tell you that fighting is breach of the peace, and if one man kills another in a fight, although it may be fair, as it was in this case, he is criminally responsible for his death and guilty of manslaughter in the eyes of the law."

It was on that basis the jury returned such a verdict and Rice was committed for trial in custody, appearing before Mr Justice Byles 12 weeks later on December 5, 1872, when he entered a 'Not guilty' plea.

Despite her loss, Angliss supported him.

She confirmed her partner had not only kicked him but he also had been the aggressor, intolerant even towards his second who had endeavoured to pacify him.

In his summing up, the judge told jurors an unlawful act had caused Martin's death but in the event of a conviction, the court would consider all the mitigating circumstances.

Jurors duly found him so but backed with a strong recommendation for mercy.

"You were not the aggressor but fighting is an unlawful occupation," remarked the judge who said three months imprisonment would be a just sentence.

Having spent two months on remand, Byles ordered him to serve another in jail before being released.