Date Of Execution: 21 Sep 1705
Execution Place: unknown
EDWARD JEFFERIES WAS a gentleman by birth and education; and as such, until the commission of the crime for which he suffered, ever deported himself. His crime affords a melancholy instance of the fatal effects of illicit love and jealousy. He was born about the year 1656, at Devizes in Wiltshire. He served his clerkship to an eminent attorney in London, and afterwards carried on business on his own account: but his father dying while he was yet young, and leaving him a considerable fortune, he entered into too profuse a way of living, and embarked in the debaucheries of the age, which dissipated his substance. Soon after, he had the good success to marry a young lady of St. Alban's, with whom he received a decent fortune, and might have lived in prosperity with her, but that he continued his former course of dissipation, which naturally occasioned a separation. He now associated with one Mrs. Elizabeth Torshell, with whom a Mr. Woodcock had likewise an illicit connection. Jefferies and Woodcock had frequent debates respecting this woman, but at length appeared to be reconciled, and dined together at the Blue-posts, near Pall-Mall, on the day that the former committed the murder. After dinner they went into the fields near Chelsea, and a quarrel arising between them, respecting Mrs. Torshell, Jefferies drew his sword, and, before Woodcock, who was left-handed, could draw his, he received a wound, of which he almost immediately died. Woodcock had no sooner fallen, than Jefferies rubbed some of his blood upon his (the deceased's) sword, took something out of his pocket, and then went towards Chelsea, where he had appointed to meet Mrs. Torshell. There were some boys playing in the fields who saw the body of the deceased, and part of the transaction above-mentioned. The body was removed to St. Martin's churchyard to be owned; and on the following day Mrs. Torshell came, among a crowd of other people, to see it; and was taken into custody, on her saying she knew the murdered party, and expressed great concern at his fate. Torshell's lodgings being searched, a number of articles were found, which she owned Mr. Jefferies had brought thither, though they appeared to belong to Woodcock. On this Jefferies was also taken into custody, and both of them were committed to Newgate. Jefferies alleged, in his defence, that he was at another place at the time the murder was committed; he called several witnesses to prove an alibi; but as these did not agree in the circumstances, he was convicted, and received sentence of death. Mrs. Torshell was acquitted. All the while he lay under condemnation, he repeatedly denied having committed the murder, and exerted his utmost interest to obtain a reprieve, which he was at length promised, through the medium of the Duke of Ormond. September the 19th, 1705, when the procession towards Tyburn had got as far as St. Giles's, a respite met him, to defer his execution till the 21st of the same month; but on that day he was executed, his guilt being too apparent. At the place of execution he again denied the fact; but said he freely forgave those who had injured him, and died in charity with all men. He betrayed no symptoms of fear during the preparation for launching him into eternity.