Preston pub landlord jailed after wooing widow and conning her out of cash

Local historian Keith Johnson looks back at the case of a married man who targeted a woman for her money...

Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 5:00 pm
The couple took a walk down by the riverside at Avenham

The Preston Sessions of late November 1900 were held at the Court House on Stanley Street before the chairman Mr. H. W. Worsley-Taylor and a bench of magistrates.

Amongst the cases for consideration was that of William James Taylor, aged 30, a tackler by trade, who was accused of obtaining £4 by false pretences from widow Selina Naylor, aged 50.

Mr. McKeand who prosecuted outlined the case saying that the accused had clearly been attracted to Mrs. Naylor, who was a widow and a domestic servant at Longton. He had spoken to her on a number of occasions although she had been cool to his advances.

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Eventually one afternoon after seeing her on Fishergate he talked her into taking a walk with him down by the riverside at Avenham where the couple shared a park bench. As they became more acquainted Taylor represented himself to be a single man called Taylor R. Benson, that he had a business in Back Lane, and that he had taken a house at the corner of Addison Road in Deepdale and furnished it at a cost of £30. Showing clear signs of affection he told the woman he loved her, and wanted to marry her.

In consequence the pair became engaged and after walking out with her several times he asked to borrow £4 from her and would pay it back at 10 shillings per week. No repayments had followed and Mr. McKeand concluded by saying in the months that followed Mrs. Naylor discovered Taylor was in fact a much married man, that he was the landlord of the Wind Mill Inn on Moor Lane, that he had no business in Back Lane and much of what he had told her was moonshine.

Taylor responded by entering the witness box and stating that he had known her for 12 months and that she had continually pestered him and endeavoured to wile him away from hearth and home.

He then claimed that Mrs. Naylor had given him the £4 to induce him to go away with her. Both the prisoner’s wife and mother then testified on behalf of Taylor in an attempt to discredit Mrs. Naylor.

After a short consultation the jury returned with a guilty verdict. Mr. Worsley -Taylor then addressed the prisoner remarking that he thought the case a bad one after reading the depositions, but having heard the prisoner’s defence he thought it even worse. By wantonly attacking the character of the prosecutrix he had proved himself to be a wicked man and a compulsive liar.

The chairman then pointed out that as recently as December 1899 the prisoner had been convicted of perjury and received a sentence of three weeks in prison. He was then informed that he would go to prison for nine months. As sentence was pronounced the prisoner’s wife fainted and had to be carried out of court.

The nowadays derelict Moor Lane Windmill still remains and in later years the Cross Keys Inn was built on the site of the Wind Mill Inn that existed in early 19th century days.