Unsolved Murders

Gladys Taylor

Age: 26

Sex: female

Date: 6 Aug 1927

Place: 122 Nightingale Lane, Balham, London

Gladys Taylor died at a nursing home in Nightingale Lane, Balham on 6 August 1927.

Gladys Taylor had been a lady's maid in Trumpington, Cambridge. She was from Aldham near Hadleigh, Ipswich.

She had become pregnant and had gone to London in an effort to terminate her pregnancy.

A doctor and a midwife were tried for her manslaughter at the Old Bailey but acquitted. It was heard that the doctor had attended to Gladys Taylor during her illness whilst she had been at the midwife's nursing home at 122 Nightingale Lane for which Gladys Taylor and her lover had paid £40. However, they were both acquitted after no evidence was offered.

The doctor had lived in High Street, Tooting and it was submitted that he had carried out an illegal operation on her and then tried to conceal her death from the coroner and the registrar.

The certified midwife, whose house Gladys Taylor died in at 122 Nightingale Lane had been running her house as a nursing home.

Gladys Taylor's mother said that Gladys Taylor had told her that she had left her situation for a holiday and was going to stay with a friend, the midwife, at Nightingale Lane. Gladys Taylor's mother said that sometime after that they got a telegram from the midwife and that they went to Nightingale Lane but that by the time they arrive Gladys Taylor was dead.

Gladys Taylor's mother said that she later met a man at Liverpool Street Station who told her that he and Gladys Taylor had been very much in love.

She said that when she spoke to the doctor from Tooting that he told her that Gladys Taylor had 'simply slipped away'.

A police superintendent said that when he visited Gladys Taylor's room in Trumpington he found several letters addressed to her from the man that she had been seeing which he said were framed in endearing terms.

When the man gave evidence, he said that he was a married man and had lived in Cecil Road, Walthamstow and had met Gladys Taylor in early 1925 and had an intimate relationship with her. He said that she later asked him if he could do anything to assist her and that he told her that he would see what he could do and sent her a couple of powders that he had obtained from a chemist. However, he said that he wrote to her after that saying that nothing more could be done and that they must hope for the best and that she replied saying that the preparation that she had been taking had not had the desired effect and that she was going to take a place in London where certain measures could be taken.

He said that he recommended that she see a certain doctor in Oxford Street and that she did so and was told to go and see the midwife in Nightingale Lane. However, he denied that he was a party to any illegal operation and added that he had had nothing to do with her going to Nightingale Lane although he admitted that he knew the purpose of her going there. He said that Gladys Taylor then told him that the midwife wanted £40 and that she would be there for about a week or a fortnight, and said that he contributed £20 and that Gladys Taylor found the balance.

He said that the midwife rang him up on the telephone at times during the first few days to say that Gladys Taylor was getting on nicely but said that a sudden urgent call was made to him on the Saturday, 6 August 1927, summoning him to Nightingale Lane, adding that Gladys Taylor had had a sudden shock and had died early that morning.

It was noted that the doctor from Oxford Street was subpoenaed by telegram by the Coroner and that when he attended he said that he knew nothing about the case.

At the inquest it was noted that along with the evidence of Gladys Taylor’s lover and the pathologists, that it was determined that there had been irregularities in the reporting of Gladys Taylor’s death that suggested that the doctor had tried to cover it up.

The inquest heard that the doctor had attended Gladys Taylor although it was not clear for what and that there had been an arrangement for her to pay him and the midwife who ran the nursing home £40, however the doctor denied that, saying that he only received two guineas.

When the coroner addressed the issue of reporting the death of Gladys Taylor, the Coroner said, 'Here you have this young woman, a stranger, away from home and relatives, who has died, and you did not report the case to me?' to which the doctor replied, 'I wanted to see the relatives first'.

When the Coroner asked, 'Why did you not report it to me at once?' the doctor said, 'It was a Saturday afternoon, I was very busy and had a lot of work to do'.

When the Coroner asked, 'Did you send a certificate of death to the registrar, hoping that he would not notice the cause of death?', the doctor replied, 'No, sir'. When the Coroner further addressed the certificate that the doctor had sent to the registrar, he pointed out that it would have led the registrar to believe that he had conducted a post mortem when he had not, but the doctor had said that that had been a mistake.

The doctor noted that after he sent the certificate that the doctor telephoned him and informed him that he needed to notify the Coroner which he said he then did himself. When the Coroner asked him, 'Were you not hoping that the case would not reach me?', the doctor replied, 'No, sir'.

The Coroner then asked, 'Why did you not ask another doctor to help you, and so protect your reputation?', the doctor replied, 'I was busy, I did telephone one doctor, but he was not in'.

He then asked, 'Was what you put on the death certificate intended to throw dust in the eyes of the registrar?', to which the doctor replied, 'No, sir'.

When the Coroner asked the doctor, 'Did you, in fact, perform an illegal operation on this young woman?', the doctor replied, 'No, sir'.

The doctor denied giving Gladys Taylor any drugs or doing anything calculated to injure her. He said that when he had seen Gladys Taylor that she had told him that she felt ill, weak and depressed and that she had been taking drugs. He said that he had not given her any drugs or do anything calculated to injure her and that all he did when he saw her on the day she died was necessary to save her life.

When the Coroner asked him why he had visited Gladys Taylor every day of the week, he told him that Gladys Taylor had been weak and prostrate. However, the Coroner noted that Gladys Taylor had gone out for a walk on the Tuesday and Wednesday and added that the doctor had described no symptom of any gravity, reminding the doctor that he was talking to another medical man.

The pathologist that carried out her post mortem concluded that she died from shock, it being heard that Gladys Taylor had been subjected to horrible treatment. He noted that she was enceinte.

The Coroner noted that evidence from Gladys Taylor's lover heard at the inquest threw the greatest doubt on the conduct of the doctor and the nursing house keeper.

Following the inquest it was concluded that Gladys Taylor had died from an illegal operation and the doctor and the woman who had run the nursing home were arrested and charged with manslaughter.

They were both tried at the Old Bailey on Friday 09 December 1927 but acquitted after the judge stopped the case when no evidence was offered against either of them.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 09 December 1927

see Londonderry Sentinel - Tuesday 18 October 1927

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Tuesday 18 October 1927

see The Scotsman - Friday 09 December 1927

see Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer - Friday 19 August 1927

see Suffolk and Essex Free Press - Thursday 25 August 1927

see Belfast Telegraph - Saturday 17 September 1927

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 09 December 1927

see Westminster Gazette - Wednesday 02 November 1927

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Friday 16 September 1927

see Shields Daily News - Tuesday 18 October 1927