British Executions

Percy Evelyn Clifford

Age: 32

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 11 Aug 1914

Crime Location: 57 North Road, Brighton

Execution Place: Lewes

Method: hanging

Executioner: John Ellis


Percy Evelyn Clifford was convicted of the murder of his wife Maud Clifford 24

He shot her at a lodging house in Brighton at 57 North Road on 7 April 1914.

They were married in 1911.

Percy Clifford was a half-caste and had served in the Imperial Yeomanry in South Africa where he was wounded after which he received a pension of about £36-10 for life.

He got a licence as a taxi-driver in 1902 but in December 1903 he got six weeks for assisting to keep a brothel.

In 1905 he got two months for attempting to steal and in 1907 he was noted as having worked on a poultry farm for eight months, but after that it was thought that he had done practically no work and had lived off his pension and earnings from the prostitution of women, including his wife.

Maud Clifford was herself a well-known and convicted prostitute.

Around November 1913 Percy Clifford and Maud Clifford separated, but it was found that Percy Clifford had often visited Maud Clifford although it was also thought that Percy Clifford had not latterly known where Maud Clifford had lived.

On Saturday 4 April 1914, Percy Clifford took Maud Clifford to Brighton for a weekend trip. They hired a room and appeared to be living on good terms.

Later on the Monday night, 7 April 1914, they returned to their lodgings late and slept together. They were apparently all right the next morning when the landlady took up their tea, but at 12.30pm the landlady said that she heard two reports, however, she said that she took the sounds to be bursting motor tyres and took no notice.

However, she said that when they had not appeared by 3pm she went up to their room and found Maud Clifford dead in bed shot through the left temple with Percy Clifford lying beside her with a bullet wound to his right temple, and a revolver lying on the floor below Percy Clifford's right hand.

Letters that were later found addressed to his mother and the Coroner that appeared to have been written before they left London showed that he intended to murder his wife and commit suicide. The police report noted that Percy Clifford professed to being jealous but stated that it was probably more correct to say that Percy Clifford resented not having the benefit of Maud Clifford's earnings.

At his trial his defence was one of insanity, but there was no evidence to support that and he was found to be perfectly sane, although during his examination his mental process was sluggish as a result of the bullet that remained in his head which was thought might have slightly affected his brain. The bullet was reported to have gone right through his brain.

It was further noted that Percy Clifford had previously threatened to shoot Maud Clifford to another prostitute but that the prostitute had as a consequence hidden his revolver.

There was no recommendation to mercy and his leave to appeal was refused. The police report noted that the murder was long premeditated and treacherously carried out and added that Percy Clifford was also a man of bad character and that consequently there were no possible grounds for interference.

see National Archives - HO 144/1323/253968