Murder of Police Sergeant Eve at Purleigh

Acting Sergeant 63 Adam Eves was posted to Purleigh in January 1891 where he lived in a cottage with his wife Elizabeth.

He was popular with his residents although of course he made a number of enemies amongst the criminal classes and had been threatened with violence often in the course of his duties.

Sergeant Eves was on night patrol on Saturday 15 April 1893 after which he failed to return home.

During the afternoon of the following day his body was discovered in a ditch at nearby Hazeleigh Hall Farm. His body was badly mutilated and his throat had been slashed.

While Detectives investigated the murder of Sergeant Eves other Officers were investigating the theft of 13 bushels of corn from a nearby barn.

Enquiries took police to the home of a local petty criminals, Richard and John Davis.

There they found a handcart which contained traces of blood and corn. Three further sacks of corn were found in their garden.

Charles Sales and John Batemen who were friends of the Davis brothers were also arrested.

Clothes from Sales,Batemen and Richard  Davis were all found to be stained with blood.

Further arrests of James Ramsey and his son John were made shortly afterwards.

John and Richard Davis, Charles Sales and James Ramsey stood trial at the Assize Court at Chelmsford on 3 August 1893.

James Ramsey was acquitted but John and Richard Davis were found guilty and sentenced to death by the Judge.

The death sentence for Richard Davis was commuted to life imprisonment but his brother was hanged.

Before his death John Davis confessed to the murder  saying that Richard Davis, James Ramsey and himself were stealing the corn when surprised by Sergeant Eves.

Ramsey knocked Sergeant Eves to the ground and cut his throat with a knife.

Using this evidence Ramsey was arrested for theft of the corn and convicted. During the trial he implicated himself in the murder.

The jury found him guilty without leaving the jury box and the Judge gave Ramsey 14 years penal servitude.

The widow of Sergeant Eves received £15 per year pension which was the highest pension possible.


The gravestone of Sergeant Eves is still to be seen in Purleigh Churchyard.