Ey oop! Butch was a Lancashire outlaw

The most famous outlaw of them all may not have had a Southern drawl but a Lancashire twang.

Butch Cassidy carved his name in history when he terrorised the Wild West with his gang of crooks just over a century ago.

Bank and train robber Butch also became part of Hollywood legend when Paul Newman played him in the Oscar-winning 1969 western film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Now Butch could be set to be immortalised in a new heritage trail in Preston, where his father Maximilian Parker lived as a young man. So how much do we know about Butch and his family's Preston roots?

Maximilian Parker, the first of 11 children, was thought to have lived in a terraced house in Avenham before his family emigrated from Preston to New York in 1856.

The Parkers were devout Mormons, a religious faith which had set down strong roots in Preston since its first missionaries arrived in the city in 1837. It was into a close-knit Mormon community in Utah that Robert LeRoy Parker – later to be known as Butch Cassidy – was born in 1866.

The first of 13 children, Butch grew up on his family's ranch in Circleville and left home as a teenager. Around this time, he became friendly with Mike Cassidy, a cattle rustler who was to have a huge influence on the young Butch – not least in inspiring him to adopt his surname.

He tried life as a cowboy in Wyoming, Montana and Colorado but turned to crime in 1889 when he and a gang of pals held up the San Miguel Valley Bank. Butch bought a ranch in Wyoming but it is thought that the farm was merely a front for more criminal activity and acted as a home to outlaws.

Butch was locked up for 18 months in 1894 for stealing horses but it didn't tame his wild ways.

Butch was not the loveable, handsome rogue portrayed on the silver screen, however, with his Wild Bunch gang responsible for a number of killings and shootings during their string of hold-ups.

But those behind the heritage trail reckon the outlaw's links to Preston are worth marking.

"The idea of the walk-round museum is, to some extent, to feature the kind of person who might not be found in a conventional museum like the Harris," says Bryn Thomas, project leader at CityBrand.

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