Richard “Gordon” Parry: Biography and Life Timeline

Richard Gordon Parry – commonly referred to as Gordon Parry – was known as a handsome, well-dresed lad. According to John Parkes, he would always be wearing a suit, and was a bit of a ladies’ man.

On the 12th of January 1909, Richard Gordon Parry was born to William John Parry and Lilian Jane Evans, who would go on to have another five children (four of the five being women): Ada Muriel, Dorothy May, Ailsa Lilian, Frederick Ronald, and Joan Margaret Parry.

The family resided at 7 Woburn Hill, Stoneycroft, Liverpool: the residence Gordon would still be living at when Julia was murdered.

Gordon’s father Wiliam Parry was a well-respected figure in Liverpool, acting as a treasury official with Liverpool Corporation. He was also a strong methodist like his own father, and even preached the word of the good book from time to time.

As a child Gordon attended Lister Drive School. Apparently it was from this very early age while still at school that his reckless behaviour was first noticed – a behavioral trait that would repeatedly rear its ugly head again and again throughout his life:

“Each day on his way to and from school, he pulled down a boundary wall at the front of houses in the course of erection. It was done so regularly that the builders decided to keep watch, and Parry was caught in the act. I think the damage was considerable … I do know that, thereafter, he was a great source of sorrow and anxiety to his parents because of his evil tendencies.”

– Henry Harris, Court Clerk

Parry eventually left school in 1923 at the age of 14. It was then in 1926 that he would take up a position as apprentice insurance salesman with the Prudential – his supervisor Joseph Crewe was also supervisor to William Herbert Wallace. It was from this point that Parry became acquainted with the Wallaces, as he was required to call upon Wallace at his home on behalf of Mr. Crewe. In Wallace’s statement he says that Parry had called at his house once on business and left a letter for him which he had written in the front room (the parlour).

During Wallace’s brief battle with bronchitis at the end of 1928, Parry would complete the rounds for him. According to Wallace, a man named Joseph Caleb Marsden (who was out of work at the time and recommended to him by Parry) also did part of this work for him. In Wallace’s statement he claims that he came to hear Marsden had previously been fired from the Pru owing to financial irregularities… Parry would also run into the same issue, as Wallace found discrepancies in the amounts he received compared to the amounts Parry had collected, which Parry would play off as a simple mistake.

Although there is nothing to suggest Wallace ever reported Parry to the Pru (it was another man named Joseph Bamber who had warned the Pru to keep an eye on Parry before this even occurred), the higher-ups in the company eventually found out, and though he wasn’t officially fired, I get the impression they “suggested” he leave of his own volition – which he did – getting a job with the Standard Life Assurance Company some time after.

His leaving the Pru occurred about 12 to 15 months before the murder, meaning some time between October 1929 and January 1930. Considering the “irregularities” Wallace had found in the amounts Parry was handing to him would have been discovered in January of 1929, it is very unlikely that Wallace was responsible in any way for Parry leaving/unofficially being fired from the Pru.

According to John Parkes, Parry had also attempted to steal money from a cupboard at Atkinson’s Garage where one of the sons of the boss kept money. Because of this, along with his tendencies to use the garage’s phone to place crank calls and and fail to pay for work that was done on his car, workers at the garage were not too keen on his regular visits.

It is curious that a man of such character appears to have been on friendly terms with a man who by all accounts is entirely different (as well as much older) than Parry: William Herbert Wallace.

Although after Julia’s death Wallace seemed to strongly believe Parry had murdered his wife, when giving his statement he had referred to Parry as a friend of both his wife and himself – a man Julia would admit into the home without question. Years later when Parry was interviewed by Johnathan Goodman, he said that he would call on Julia from time to time (who he deemed a “sweet old lady”) for musical evenings – Julia on the piano and Parry singing. And of Wallace, friends of Parry attested that he had “quite liked” Wallace, and that he had said what a shame it was that Wallace had been arrested for the crime.

Despite his apparent friendship with Wallace, and the fact he likely did not know Wallace had fingered him as a suspect at the time (his name seems to have first came out publicly at the trial), Parry did not attend any of the hearings or trials relating to the murder.

A review of a production of John Glayde’s Honour by the Mersey A.D.S., which Gordon Parry took part in. Click the photo to enlarge.

It would appear that Gordon Parry was a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde type of character. On one hand a kindly fellow who would sing along to an old lady’s piano playing and give gifts to Wallace (a calendar had been given to Wallace as a gift in December 1930), and on the other, a criminal.

On the “Jekyll” side of the coin he was a member of the Mersey Amateur Dramatic society (referred to as the Mersey A.D.S. or M.A.D.S. at the time). He had recently appeared in a production of John Glayde’s Honour with this group, which received good reviews in the local paper.

It is actually through his passion for acting and music that he met his longtime girlfriend Lily Lloyd, as the pair were both in Lister Drive School’s drama club. The pair eventually split two years after the murder, and Lily allegedly offered Hector Munro to sign an affadavit attesting she had falsified the time Parry had arrived at her house on the night of the murder (when interviewed by Wilkes in the ’80s, Munro said he did not remember this – though Lily herself would tell Wilkes she had indeed given an earlier arrival time to police).

However, it would seem they continued to keep in contact throughout their lives, as she was already aware of his death when Wilkes interviewed her personally over the phone. She maintained that she did not believe that Gordon was the killer and that he had never told her anything that would suggest he was.

A photo of a young Gordon and Lily Lloyd with the Lister Drive drama club.

At the time of the murder Parry and Lily were simply courting, but police as well as Wallace had believed the two were engaged.

It is hard to imagine a violent murderer meeting up every week to rehearse plays, and it’s true that a friend would tell John Wilkes that Parry would run from any sign of trouble, and “couldn’t stand the sight of blood”… But in contrast to this he was accused of violence in the form of sexually assault against a young woman he met at a bar named Lily Fitzsimons, five years after Julia was murdered.

Ironically, the same Professor McFall who had been called by the prosecution in the trial of William Herbert Wallace would play defendent for Parry in this case, claiming that there was no sign that any such assault had taken place. However, the prosecution argued that an earring which had been torn from her ear, torn clothing, and witnesses seeing red marks upon her face at the time the alleged assault took place, bore out her story. All newspaper clippings I can find on this matter are in order as follows…

Click the images to view them in full size.

Printed 8th May 1936.


 

Printed 28th May 1936.


 

Printed 15th June 1936.


 

Printed 16th June 1936.

If this event really is true, it would show that Parry was more than a simple conman and petty thief, but a man who could also be dangerous and violent.

As part of his alibi for the night of the murder, Parry claimed that he stopped by Leslie Williamson’s home to discuss a 21st birthday party with Mrs. Williamson:

“..I went there and got my accumulator and then went down West Derby Road and along to Mrs Williamson, of 49 Lisburn Lane, and saw her. We had a chat about a 21st birthday party for about 10 minutes.”

Leslie Williamson himself called into Roger Wilkes’ radio show in the 1980s and made no mention of this visit (though of course it is possible he was not at home at the time), but did make clear his disdain for Parry and his character:

“While I was away at sea, he conned my mother into handing over my insurance cards for some reason or other. Because of his vicious character – and I knew he had a dual personality and he could fight – I took another chappy along with me to his home off Green Lane in case there was any fisty-cuffs, so I could get my insurance cards back – which I did do.

All I knew of Lily lloyd was that she was such a wonderful pianist. And Parry at that particular time, if I remember rightly, he’d conned her mother into an insurance policy, and he’d also conned her into handing over her engagement ring.

On the week of the murder, I was at home, on leave from sea. Parry called at our house about four or five o’clock or something like that, one evening, and I answered the door. He wanted to see my mother – my mother was a music teacher, and she had a pupil in at the time, and it was a sacrilege to break into the lesson… He was most adamant… He got in through the vestibule in Lisburn Lane, and he wanted to see my mother about a song: he wanted some music. Well this is funny… Anyway, he did see my mother; my mother came out after I’d asked her, and I can always remember them going to the music stool and asking the student to get up off the music stool, and he chose a song out of this particular stool…”

Again implying a kind of “Jekyll and Hyde” persona, Leslie Williamson outright states that Parry had a dual personality.

There are other newspaper reports of various crimes he was involved in which I will include in the later timeline, but these do not involve violence against another person… But it is indeed obvious that Parry liked to ride on the wrong side of the law.

At some point after 1932, it would seem he left the insurance business entirely. In 1934 he is listed as being a soldier, in the earlier half of 1936 a radio dealer, and by the end of July 1936 a shop manager.

Gordon Parry would marry twice, and it was with his second wife that he would have a daughter. Following this remarriage, he began work (ironically) as a GPO telephone operator in London, before moving to Wales in 1968.

The Marine, 236 Abergele, Old Colwyn. Now functioning as a hotel.

Philip Roberts, a drinking buddy of his in Wales, said that Gordon had gone by the name “Dick” and that they drank at the same pub known as The Marine in Old Colwyn:

“I knew this chap, knew him quite well as a matter of fact. I called him Dick. He died last spring. We both drank in the same pub, The Marine in Old Colwyn.

Dick was one hell of a character. Used to get a lot of people’s backs up. Had an incredibly arrogant manner on the telephone. Bit of a handicap really because that was his job: switchboard operator at the hospital in Colwyn Bay [Parry had worked this position in various hospitals in the North Clwyd area].”

– Philip Roberts

His final address at the time of his death (by way of heart attack at home in April 1980, aged 71) seems to have been a rather isolated home on Waterloo Hill, Abergele, Wales. It was here that he lived alone following the death of his second wife in 1976. It was not until two days after his death that his body was finally discovered.

Although Wallace’s police statement said that he did not believe Gordon drank, notes by Parry’s daughter on the death certificate claim that he was both a heavy drinker and smoker.

Work in progress…

12/01/1909: Richard Gordon Parry is born to William John Parry and Lilian Jane Parry (née Evans).

Residence: 7 Woburn Hill, Stoneycroft, Liverpool.

Late December – Early January 1929: Parry fills in for Wallace who is ill with bronchitis. Wallace finds discrepancies in the amounts paid in and the amounts collected during the period Parry filled in for him. Parry claims it was an oversight and puts the matter right.

October 1929 – January 1930: Parry leaves the Pru, allegedly to improve his position.

November 1930: While rehearsing with his drama club at Cottle’s City Cafe, Parry sees Wallace there for his chess club “about three” times through November, and did not know prior to this that Wallace was a member of the chess club there. Wallace recalls seeing Parry once on what he believes was a Thursday. This is probably accurate since Gordon’s drama club only met there on Tuesdays and Thursdays, while Wallace’s chess club met on Mondays and Thursdays.

The first Thursday of this month would have been the 6th of November. To have attended on a Thursday, Wallace must have been there for fun rather than to play a tournament match since his tournament days were Monday – much like how Caird was at the club on Monday the 19th despite his tournament nights being Thursday.

Depending on which Thursday in November Gordon had seen Wallace – assuming he is telling the truth that it is only then that he discovered Wallace was a member of the chess club there – the earliest the first sighting could have been would be the 6th, meaning he had between 6 and 7 opportunities to attempt to pull off the hoax call (5 or 6 IF he checked the chart early and figured that the Xs would be dates when the person would not show).

If he did place the call, then it was on the penultimate opportunity (the final date marked on the chart being the 21st February) he did so. It is worth noting that while the club usually meets every two weeks, there is over a month gap between the 19th of January when the call was placed and what was presumably the finale.

By January the 19th the night “Qualtrough” rang the club, Wallace had only showed up once since the beginning of November (on the 10th).

December 1930: Parry claims to have seen Wallace on a bus from Victoria Street during this month. Wallace claims that during this month he saw Parry in Missouri Road (where Lily Lloyd lived) driving his motor car, and it was then that Parry had given him a calendar from his new company as a gift. Since Missouri Road is in Clubmoor, the district in which Wallace collected, it is possible he was out on business at the time.

The content of any conversation that took place between the men on these two occasions is unknown.

25/01/1932: Theft of a motor car from School Lane.

27/01/1932: Parry is caught attempting to steal a car. Reported on the 30th as follows:

Printed 15th Feburary, 1932.

10/02/1932: Theft from a telephone kiosk at 14 Castle Street.

24/02/1932: Theft from a telephone kiosk at the Empire Theatre, Lime Street.

01/03/1932: Parry stands trial at Liverpool Police Court for hijacking of motor cars, and theft from café telephone kiosks. Detective Tilley stated that Parry – despite being in regular employment – was experiencing severe financial difficulties. His father said that he does not understand the behaviour, since Parry had a good home, but seems to have got into debt.

1933: Parry splits up with long-time girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Lily Lloyd.

1934: Parry, a soldier at this time, is caught attempted to steal a car with two friends, Thomas Henry Woods and Arthur Benjamin Spencer.

Printed 27th September 1934 in the West Sussex Gazette.

July 1935: Parry caught and bound over for fraudulently embezzling an amount of £2, 7s (shillings), 3d (pence). Equivalent in today’s money to around £120.

23/04/1936: An alleged sexual assault by Parry (now working as a radio dealer) takes place against Lily Fitzsimons, a woman Parry had met at a bar and offered to give a ride home to. It goes to trial but he is found Not Guilty. According to John Gannon, the girl claimed that Parry had threatened to murder her.

All news clippings for this incident can be found earlier on this page by clicking here.

24/07/1936: Parry is seen by police arguing with a woman in the streets. When he fails to provide them with his address, he is arrested and causes damage to a seat in the cell he is placed in. Due to his violence he was placed in irons, and later fined £1.

Printed 28th July, 1936.

07/03/1937: Parry marries Miriam Traverse. They have a child together: Barbara Parry.

Early 1940s: Ada Pritchard (now Ada Cook) was followed by Parry – who was still married at the time – into a fish shop where he attempted to chat her up. Apparently he did not recognize her. She responded: “Gordon Parry, I’m Ada Pritchard and I know everything about you, so leave me alone”, she then left the shop and waved down the first bus that came along. He did not follow her.

13/03/1966: Johnathan Goodman, researcher of the Wallace case, confronts Parry at his home at 39 Grove Hill Road, Brixton, London. He gave a very long and detailed account of the encounter:

“Parry, who now works for ‘the government’ (telephone operator) and was about to go on night duty, is married to a plump woman who appears some years younger than himself (he is fifty-seven), and has a daughter who is just about to go to university.

We found him a bland, plausible man who was not made in any way uncomfortable by our questioning. He had grey hair, smoothed sleekly back, and a neat-clipped military style moustache. He is of medium height and is neither fat nor thin. He appears to be in very robust health, wiry and well-preserved for his age. He is of reasonably powerful build, has noticeably large hands, and a loose, damp and rather fleshy handshake. His eyes, which are of that bold blue which is traditionally associated with ‘sex maniacs’, are penetrating and alternately shifty and too-candid. He exhibits a certain lack of affect. He engenders an air of spurious authority of the kind that one encounters in the knowing, self-possessed and self-satisfied kind of a jailbird. It was an air of authority that made us think of the type of ex-army non-commissioned officer who becomes a commissionaire.

He also exudes a false trowel-layed-on [sic] charm, which can easily beguile, but is as bogus as the bonhomie of a car salesman. This manner masks, in our opinion, considerable firmness – even ruthlessness. He would be a nasty man to cross. Despite an obvious, and quite attractive sense of humour, one suspects that just below the surface there lurks a considerable capacity for unpleasantness. We would sum him up as a tricky, position-shifting individual of the con man type. He is evasive, manipulative, sharp, on-the-ball and very clever. He is quite well-spoken, and throughout the interview kept a self-satisfied and inappropriate smile on his face.

Parry hinted that, if he chose, he could reveal much about Wallace, whom he described as a ‘very strange man’; he implied that Wallace was sexually odd.

He described Julia Wallace as a ‘very sweet, charming woman’. He said that he used to sing as a young man, and would often go to tea at 29 Wolverton Street, where Julia would accompany his singing on the piano. He was quite ready to admit that, as a young man, he was what he called a ‘tearaway’. But he made little of the criminal charges against him: just youthful high spirits, no real harm done. ‘It was very awkward for me, having my little misdemeanours dragged up at the time of the case,’ he remarked.

The police, he said, were satisfied as to his innocence of the Wallace murder when he produced some people with whom he had spent the evening ‘arranging a birthday celebration’. (This new professed alibi may be significant in view of the fact that R.M. Qualtrough spoke of being busy with his girl’s twenty-first birthday party). He did not remember being in Breck Road on the night of the murder (the ‘new alibi’ mentioned by his father when JG spoke to him).

He refused to talk about his part in the case – ‘Not if you were to offer me £2000’ – because, he said, he had promised his father that he would not speak about it. He added that, when his father died, he might be prepared to talk, subject to proper financial arrangements being made. He suggested that JG had acted less than honestly in his endeavours to trace him, and had upset his father and endangered his heart. But even this was done in an oblique sort of way by saying that ‘someone’ had called on his father and upset him.

He claimed that the Wallace case broke up his engagement to Lily Lloyd. He refused to talk about Miss Lloyd, apart from saying that he was still in touch with her and that she is now living in Llandudno [Goodman claims this is a lie but later testimony from Lily shows they did indeed keep in touch].

He said that Joseph Crewe, the Prudential superintendent – now conveniently dead – was utterly convinced of Wallace’s guilt [Goodman claims this is untrue, the trial seems to suggest so]. It was surprising to learn that he knew of the deaths of Crewe, Alan Close, and Wallace’s nephew Edwin. (The latter’s death in North Borneo was not at all widely reported, which suggests that Parry watched everything that appears in connection with the case.)

A week or so after the interview, I telephoned Parry. He was viciously angry at my doing so, and I was taken aback by the breadth of his vocabulary of foul language: many of the obscenities were new to me. The odd thing, though, was that I all the time had the feeling that he was enjoying his outburst.”

– Johnathan Goodman

1974: Parry is convicted for drink driving, at this time he is residing in Wales.

14/04/1980: Parry dies of a heart attack, it takes two days for his body to be discovered.

1980 – 1984: Roger Wilkes investigates the Wallace case, with Johnathan Goodman assisting. Events of note:

  1. Wilkes contacts Parry’s daughter for information. She has never heard of the Wallace case or heard anything of her father’s involvement. After this call, Wilkes sends her a letter. Parry’s daughter’s husband responds, stating that the letter had greatly upset his wife. He described Gordon Parry as “secretive” a “bit of a recluse”, and the “black sheep of the family”.
  2. Wilkes attempts to make contact with Parry’s living siblings but they do not wish to talk to him.
  3. Wilkes contacts Lily Lloyd by telephone, saying this (compiled from notes Wilkes took during the call):

    In January 1931 I was going out with Gordon Parry but we were not engaged. I gave a statement to the police investigating the Wallace murder, but it was only partly true. This is because I only saw Gordon later in the evening of the murder, I can’t remember how much later.

    I have made that part of my life a closed book. To reopen it now would cause me great distress.

    I was very, very much in love with Gordon and he with me. He was a very charming, talented, and handsome young man, and I was terribly upset when the relationship ended… I knew that Gordon had died last April, and that his wife had died some years ago.

    To remember all this fifty years on brings me great pain. But I will say this: I can’t possibly believe that Gordon did this murder, and he certainly never confided in me anything that suggested he might have done. The episode is closed and it belongs to me alone.”

    – Lily Lloyd

This entry was posted in General. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *