What links a West End department store owner, a policeman and an illegitimate murderer?

William Whiteley!    (1831-1907)

On the 29th January, 1907, Yorkshire born millionaire and founder of the eponymous Whiteleys department store in Notting Hill was shot dead outside his office.  He was 75. The murderer, 29 year old Horace George Raynor, declared himself as Whiteley’s illegitimate son and when Whiteley wouldn’t acknowledge him as such, pulled out a gun shooting Whiteley and then himself.  Bang Bang.

Raynor survived, was tried, (pleading  insanity) and sentenced to death commuted to life imprison.  You can read the details of the Old Bailey trial here.  It’s very racy.  In 1919, just after WW1, Raynor was released.

Thirty years earlier, his alleged father William Whiteley, then in his late 40s, had taken up, one at a time, two sisters, Louise and Emily Turner both of whom worked in his shop!   In 1879, Louise, aged about 22, (she didn’t know her exact age at her son’s trial) found herself pregnant and gave birth to Horace George Turner/Raynor – a  friend conveniently let her register the child as his son.  Whiteley threw her over replacing her with older sister Emily who also, according to the court trial, had a child by him.    An older man’s money is very persuasive to young girls….   The photo above, courtesy Wikipedia, shows Whiteley circa 1890.

One of my relatives, Edwin Emm, was a Paddington police constable (warrant number 51367) who walked the Notting Hill beat from the 1870s.  On 6th August 1887, Whiteley’s store was on fire for the second time in two years so obviously arson was suspected.  As an entrepreneur and employer,  Whiteley had had plenty of enemies….   Edwin, one of the first on the scene, was hit by flying debris, received a bad cut to his scalp, a back injury and taken to hospital.  In November 1888, he was invalided out of the Metropolitan Police and awarded a pension; by 1891, he was a tobacconist living with his family in Willesden.

I like to think Edwin would have recognised Whiteley and the Turner sisters.

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