Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wiedemann v. Walpole, 1888, Part 2

It wouldn't have been every day that a gentleman like the heir to the Earldom of Orford [father of our Lady Dorothy Mills] had had his brand new, pregnant wife, family, and friends more or less terrorized by a former lover who bore his child out of wedlock after he allegedly raped her, and then found himself embroiled in a lawsuit seeking £10,000—likely more than just spare change in 1888!

Before anything else, let's wrap up the first trial [Click here for Part 1]—yes, just the first trial—and next time we'll look at how everything played out after the surprising events and controversial judge's ruling below:

From the London Times of 30 November 1888:

(Before MR. BARON HUDDLESTON and a Special Jury.—)


The hearing of this action, which was brought by a German lady to recover damages for alleged breach of promise of marriage and libel from Robert Horace Walpole, was resumed to-day. The defendant denied the promise and also the alleged breach; he also denied that the words complained of were written with malice, and alternately pleaded privilege.

Mr. Alfred Cock, Q.C., Mr. Israel Davis, and Mr. Evans Austin again appeared for the plaintiff; the Solicitor-General (Sir B. Clarke, Q.C.) and Mr. W. Graham for the defendant. Cross-examination of the plaintiff continued.—I sent four postcards to Mrs. Walpole. (The postcards were put in evidence, and Mr. Baron Huddleston then read from them) : —"You know that I must curse vou from the bottom of my heart, and that I do so, and shall do so in all eternity for the endless suffering you have brought over me, and also, you run away whenever I come. I shall meet you once, and you shall hear my curse." The postcards were dated July or August, 1888. I heard of the defendant's marriage in May, 1888. I wrote the postcards to Mrs. Walpole, as she is the cause of the defendant's not keeping his promise. Every time I met Mrs. Walpole in the street driving she looked and laughed at me. I walked in Park-lane, near Mrs. Walpole's house, and waited for the defendant to come out. I never wrote in chalk on the door or steps, nor did any one else to my knowledge. Between January, 1888, when defendant became engaged, and May I wrote once to Mr. Corbin, three times to Miss Corbin, and two or three times to Mrs. Walpole. I wrote to Miss Corbin at Cannes saying that I had had a child by the defendant, and that the child was living, also stating everything and that she had no right to marry him. The child is living. On November 27, 1882, I wrote to the defendant that I was ashamed of going out alone, as I was with child. That was true.

A question was put to the witness about her child, which she refused to answer.

MR. COCK.—You must answer the question.

MR. BARON HUDDLESTON.—Mr. Cock, I am ruling in this Court.

The witness (excitedly).—He has no right to ask after my child, having made no inquiry for six years. [MR. BARON HUDDLESTON pressed the witness as to the meaning of the letter of November 27.] After my idea I was "si grosse" I had to alter my dresses. The defendant is the father. I charge him with the crime of having ruined my life. Pressed as to the place of birth of the child,—I refuse to answer questions about this altogether. The action is brought by me for breach of promise of marriage and has nothing to do with the child.

MR. BARON HUDDLESTON, to Mr. Cock.—What course do you propose to adopt ?

Mr. COCK.—Having regard to your Lordship's observation a short time ago, I have nothing to say.

MR. BARON HUDDLESTON, to witness.—I consider they are proper questions to be asked, and you must answer them. If you refuse to answer it is contempt of Court, and I shall have to order you into custody.

The witness.—I shall leave the Court.

MR. BARON HUDDLESTON.—Then you will be non-suited. You must answer the questions or retire from the case. You had better speak with your counsel.

The witness then left the witness-box and conferred with Mr. Cock.

Mr. COCK.—I have given the advice which I think necessary. The plaintiff says that rather than answer the questions she will retire from the case. If your Lordship insists upon them, then she must withdraw from the case.

MR. BARON HUDDLESTON, to the jury.—I direct you to find a verdict for the defendant.

The jury returned a verdict for the defendant accordingly.

MR. COCK.—I only meant to assist the Court when I interposed.

MR. BARON; HUDDLESTON.—You aIways conduct your cases with ability and fairness.

The SOLICTOR-GENERAL.—My Lord, I was very anxious that this case should be tried out in its entirety.

By the direction of the learned JUDGE the letters, postcards, and documents were impounded and left in the possession of the officer of the Court.

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