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Breach of Promise Case

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Breach of Promise Case

Post by Karen on Sat 11 Jun 2011 - 2:59


An Isle of Man courtship and its sequel came before Mr. Mellor, K.C., sitting as Assessor in the Sheriff's Court at the Manchester Assizes recently.
Miss Maria Harvey, manageress of a clothing manufacturing business in Manchester, was the plaintiff. She sued for breach of promise Mr. John Cartwright Roberts, a well to do pawnbroker, who has several establishments in Birmingham.
They met, said counsel, at a Douglas boarding house in January, 1900. Roberts, a widower of 40, with a family of four children, told Miss Harvey, after a week that he loved her, and asked her to marry him. If she consented, he was prepared to settle 2000 pounds upon her.
The lady temporised. The holiday over Roberts went to Manchester to pursue the lady. She explained that if she kept her situation a partnership was in store for her. A partnership of another kind being desired by Roberts, he persisted, and she ended by accepting him.
April 1901 was the date settled for the marriage. She went to Birmingham and was introduced to his friends and relatives as his future wife. Then Roberts cooled down, and Miss Harvey told him she should consult her solicitor.


In his reply Roberts advised her to study the marriage ceremony in the Book of Common Prayer and the 15th Chapter of Ephesians, beginning at the 22nd verse. He added: "Before I am married I must be satisfied that I am keeping God's commands - otherwise I cannot expect a blessing upon the union. Are you prepared to love, honour, and cherish, and yet harbour feelings of defiance and threaten? You are doing your very best to make the marriage unhappy, and yet asking me to marry you."
Miss Harvey retorted by refusing to discuss the Bible. She said she considered his letter a termination of the engagement.
Miss Harvey told the Court that her salary and commission had amounted to 200 pounds.
Mr. Dorsett (for defendant): Was he your first love? - No.
You have been engaged twice before? - Yes.
Did you break these engagements off? - No.
You broke the first off with the surveyor? - Yes.
That was the gentleman with the revolver? - It was.
He went after you with a revolver to shoot you because you broke it off? - Yes.
Did you break it off with the last one? - He gave me up.
Is that the gentleman who held you over the canal? - No.
Who was the gentleman who held you over the canal and threatened to drown you if you did not consent to be his wife? - Witness gave no answer.
The jury awarded Miss Harvey 375 pounds damages.

Source: Auckland Star, Volume XXXII, Issue 215, 21 September 1901, Page 5

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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