Date of Birth:
Alfred Highfield and Edith
Poole seemed to be such a well matched and devoted couple.
They had been seeing each other for some six years and had
set a provisional wedding date for August 1900.
On Easter Monday, the young couple had argued about
something and Edith now refused to have anything more to
do with Alfred. In later statements, Alfred would blame
Edith for losing him his job as a labourer at the
Westminster Brewery Company, and it may well have been
over this particular matter that they had disagreed.
What is certain is that in the early stages at least,
Alfred appeared to blame himself for the break-up and
wrote to Edith apologising for having offended her. It was
no use. She did not want to have anything more to do with
Edith's family were still on good terms with Alfred and on
13th May her brother invited Alfred to tea. Edith was
there and it may be that there was a plan to deliberately
manoeuvre them together in the hope that they would sort
out their differences. During that meeting, Alfred again
asked Edith if they might go on seeing each other and
again Edith was firm in her resolve that the relationship
was over. It was a quiet and subdued Alfred who went out
with the family, and some of their friends, for a walk
Alfred and Edith walked behind the rest of the group,
talking quietly to each other. As the party strolled down
Great Queen Street, near Lincoln's Inn Fields, they heard
a cry and turning around, saw Alfred kneeling over the
prostrate figure of Edith.
Running back, Edith's brother pulled Alfred off his sister
and saw to his horror that Edith's throat had been cut.
She was rushed to hospital where she died, nine days after
the attack upon her. Alfred, at first facing an assault
charge, now faced one of murder.
At the trial, Alfred's defence was one of manslaughter. He
claimed that he had asked Edith one last time to start
seeing him again. When she had refused, he had taken out
the razor he habitually carried with him, in order to take
his own life. Edith had struggled with him in an attempt
to stop him and he must have accidentally cut her throat
whilst they were fighting.
This scenario did not appear to agree with the statements
Alfred had made immediately after the attack when he was
still facing the lesser charge. When told how badly
injured Edith was, Alfred said; "I know what I have done.
I don't care if I die for it."
At first, the jury were unable to agree on a verdict.
After ninety minutes of deliberation they returned to
court to inform the judge that eleven had voted one way,
with the twelfth person in opposition. Sent back to their
chamber by the judge, the twelve finally agreed that
Alfred was guilty of murder, but added a recommendation to
mercy on acount of the excitement he was in at the time,
his youth, and his previous good character.
Alfred Highfield did not escape the noose though and was
hanged exactly eight weeks after his sweetheart had died
Alfred was Hanged at Newgate at 17th July 1900.