Date Of Execution: 4 Feb 1913
Crime Location: Cotton Hall House, Eton Wick Road, Eton
Execution Place: Reading
Executioner: John Ellis
Eric James Sedgwick was convicted of the murder of his girlfriend Annie Wentworth Davis 22
He stabbed her to death at Cotton Hall House, Eton Wick Road, Eton on 24 November 1912.
Eric Sedgwick was from Yorkshire and was an ex-soldier and had recently worked as a house porter at the National Liberal Club in Whitehall. He served 8 years in the Army, 4 1/2 of them in India, and was discharged in 1910 with good conduct and started with the National Liberal Club on 14 October 1910.
He had kept company with Annie Davis, who was a domestic servant, for about three years having met her in 1910 whilst he was working in London.
In February 1912, Eric Sedgwick was in service at Burwell Park and Annie Davis was in service with a woman at Carisbrook on Oakholme Road in Sheffield. They both left their situations on about 14 February 1912 and lived together as man and wife at various hotels in Mansfield, Nottingham and Derby.
At the end of a certain week Annie Davis went to her parents in Wentworth and Eric Sedgwick turned to his situation in Burwell Park.
Annie Davis later went to work at Cotton Hall House at Eton College on 26 August 1912.
They had some quarrels, but it later became suggested that Eric Sedgwick had been seeing other women and letters he had written indicated that he had no intention of marrying her.
It was said that it was a shock for Annie Davis to think that Eric Sedgwick might be only making use of her and had no intention of marrying her and on the night of 23 November 1912 she wrote Eric Sedgwick a pathetic letter definitely breaking up with him although it was known that Eric Sedgwick had not received the letter before the murder as it was not delivered in London until the following Monday.
However, it was thought that there was no doubt that when Eric Sedgwick went to see Annie Davis in Eton on 24 November 1912 that she had told him what was in the letter.
Whilst they were alone in the servant’s hall Eric Sedgwick stabbed Annie Davis in the heart with an Indian dagger which it was thought he had bought for that purpose.
When he was arrested, he was found to have had some chocolates, violets and a silk handkerchief in his pockets that he had apparently intended to give to her if she had been ready to make it up and go on as before but thought that if she refused then he would use the knife.
It was noted that Annie Davis had told people that she was afraid of Eric Sedgwick and that she had previously stated that if she was unfaithful to him that they would both be dead. She also told a fellow servant that she was afraid to go and see him.
The head housemaid at Cotton Hall House said that she was friendly with Annie Davis and knew that she had been keeping company with Eric Sedgwick saying that she first saw him at the house on 5 October 1912. She said that Annie Davis and Eric Sedgwick went out together on that day at about 8.15pm and that they returned at about 10pm and that when they did, Annie Davis seemed very much upset and was crying. She said that Eric Sedgwick had been staying at the Three Lions pub in Eton at the time and that he had stayed there from 5 October to 11 October 1912 during which time he had visited Cotton Hall House on several occasions.
The head housemaid said that when she saw them, they appeared to be friendly and that after Eric Sedgwick left Annie Davis seemed to be upset.
The head housemaid said that she saw Eric Sedgwick again on 10 November 1912 when he came to the house for tea and supper, saying that he stayed until 8pm after which they went out, returning at about 9pm for supper and then going back out again at about 10.20pm after which Annie Davis came back alone. The head housemaid said that when Annie Davis came back, she slept in the same room with her but was very quiet and said that the next day she told her something.
The head housemaid said that she didn't see Eric Sedgwick again until 24 November 1912 when he came to the house in the afternoon at about 3.50pm. She said that she saw him in the Servants Hall and said that he said to her, 'Good afternoon, I hope you are well, could I see Annie'. She said that she then sent him to the Servants Hall and then went up to Annie Davis's room and found her on her bed and told her that Eric Sedgwick was there to see her. She said that Annie Davis went white as death when she told her and trembled very much. She said that Annie Davis was not trembling before she spoke to her. The head housemaid said that they then both went downstairs together, and that Annie Davis then went into the Servants Hall and that she then went off to the Pantry which was next door to the Servants Hall.
The head housemaid said that she could hear them talking rather loudly and recognised both the voices of Eric Sedgwick and Annie Davis but said that she could not hear anything they were saying. She said that she remained in the pantry for about ten minutes and then went back into the Servants Hall for some mustard and said that both Eric Sedgwick and Annie Davis were still there, and that there was nobody else in the room. she said that they were both standing by the fire and that she then heard Annie Davis say, 'You must go now, you must go'. The head housemaid said that she didn't hear Eric Sedgwick say anything and said that Annie Davis was crying. She said that she said to Annie Davis, 'Oh don't cry Annie, don’t cry'.
The head housemaid said that Eric Sedgwick had his overcoat on but his hat off and said that she didn't notice a knife or sheath. She said that she then went upstairs to light up the bedrooms and noticed the time by the Hall Clock as being 4.10pm. She said that she was not upstairs more than five minutes, if even that, when she said that she came back down and saw her mistress and another parlour maid and after speaking said that she rushed into the Servants Hall and saw Annie Davis in a chair with Eric Sedgwick bending over her and blood all down Annie Davis's left side. She said that it was only them in the room at the time.
The head housemaid said that she asked Eric Sedgwick, 'Eric, Eric, what have you done, you have killed her', and said that Eric Sedgwick replied, 'For God's sake bring some water'. She said that Eric Sedgwick had his left arm round her neck and his right arm just on her elbow. She said that she went to get some water and gave it to Eric Sedgwick and said that Eric Sedgwick then gave it to Annie Davis to drink, holding it himself. She said that Annie Davis was moaning very much, and that Eric Sedgwick kept saying, 'Nance you are not dead, won't you speak to me, you are not a Davis and they shan't part us'.
The head housemaid said that Eric Sedgwick was kissing Annie Davis during that time and said that she then went off to see if she could get a policeman at the back gate but said that she didn't see one. She said that when she got back, she saw two other maids in the Servants Hall and said that she and the other servants undid Annie Davis's dress in the front, noting that Eric Sedgwick was standing just at the side.
She said that a neighbour then came in and Eric Sedgwick got back down towards Annie Davis as if to kiss her, but said that the neighbour said to him, 'Get away, get away'. She said that soon after that the police arrived.
A doctor that arrived at Cotton Hall House at about 4.45pm said that he found Annie Davis sat in a wicker chair, saying that she was dead. He said that he found her clothing undone and a wound on the left side of her chest which was about three quarters of an inch long, noting that she also had a small abrasion on the front of her left wrist. He said that he carried out her post-mortem the following day and found that the wound had extended to her heart and concluded that her cause of death was due to bleeding from that wound in the heart. He also noted that Annie Davis was not a virgin.
Eric Sedgwick was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death with no recommendation to mercy.
see National Archives - ASSI 13/43, HO 144/1248/233218
see Exeter and Plymouth Gazette - Tuesday 26 November 1912
see Aberdeen Journal - Wednesday 05 February 1913