Two Preston men jailed for 10 years after brutal rape of woman

Local historian Keith Johnson looks back at a shocking crime from yesteryear...

By Henry Widdas, Communities Content Page Manager
Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 12:30 pm
The New Quay Inn was a popular ale house
The New Quay Inn was a popular ale house

At the Preston police-court in early March 1865 two young men Henry Miller, sailor, and David Anyon, labourer, appeared in the dock charged with feloniously ravishing Maria Haydock.

The court heard that Miss Haydock, a winder in a cotton factory, had been at the New Quay Inn situated at the end of Marsh Lane on the last Sunday of February.

She had been in the company of a man named Spencer who treated her to a glass of wine. Also in the vault were the two accused who Spencer treated to a pint of ale. Shortly after 10 o’clock that evening Miss Haydock left the inn accompanied by Spencer, the pair walking along Strand Road on the Marsh side.

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Miss Haydock claimed that shortly afterwards as the couple were stood chatting by a wall Anyon came up and seized hold of her. Spencer told him to leave her alone, but he refused to do so, and shortly afterwards Spencer who feared violence from Anyon decided to walk away.

Miller then arrived on the scene and he with the assistance of Anyon, committed the offence stated in the indictment. After the assault had been carried out Miss Haydock, who was in a distressed state with her clothes torn and dirty, gave information to the police and the accused were both apprehended at an early hour the next morning.

According to the police Miller, when arrested, had admitted the offence and scratches on his face and nose were as described by Miss Haydock who had said she inflicted them as she struggled. Anyon on the other hand completely denied any involvement when questioned.

After considerable discussion on the bench magistrate Richard Pedder announced that both the accused were committed for trial. This took place at the Lancaster Assizes a week later before Mr Justice Shee. With both prisoners entering pleas of not guilty the evidence was once more presented and then Mr. Torr, representing the prisoners, questioned the truthfulness of the prosecutor’s testimony.

In his cross examination he asked her if it was true she had been out of work for six months and that during that time she had been in the habit of soliciting men in the streets. Accusations that she refused to answer, but she continued to insist that an outrage had been carried out upon her. Mr. Torr in his final address to the jury urged them to consider that the evidence against both the accused was not conclusive.

His Lordship summed up most carefully and lucidly and the jury after a short deliberation, returned a verdict of guilty. Justice Shee then addressed the prisoners and told them that he thought the jury had come to the right conclusion, stating that in his opinion the girl had been subjected to an aggravated rape of a most brutal nature. He then sentenced both prisoners to 10 years penal servitude a sentence that seemed to stagger the prisoners, with Anyon crying out that it was all false as they were removed from the dock.

The foreman of the jury then inquired if anything could be done about censuring Spencer. His Lordship responding by telling him it was not within his jurisdiction, although he would place on record the cowardly conduct of Spencer who had left the girl to her distressing fate.

The New Quay Inn, dating back to 1841, was a popular ale house in its day with a bowling green attached. It closed down in the late 1960s and was eventually demolished as a road widening scheme developed on Strand Road.