Sunday, August 14, 2011

In the Courts

‘Yesterday there was a bother with the Chancellor about Lord Westmeath’s case pending before the Privy Council.[a marital dispute] He took it into his head (probably having been got at by Lady Westmeath or some of her friends) to have it decided forthwith, and sent to desire a Committee might be convened. Westmeath’s counsel was out of town; Follett, whom he relies on, is on the Northern Circuit, but his other counsel is to be had, being at Chislehurst. Accordingly the Chancellor desired that the case might stand over from Thursday, the day he first appointed it (giving only two days’ notice), to Monday, and that it should be notified to the parties that if they did not then appear the case should go on without them. Westmeath came to me in a frenzy of rage, and said the Chancellor was the greatest of villains, and so he would tell him in the House of Lords or in the Privy Council. I begged him to hold his tongue, and I would speak to the Chancellor. So I went to the House of Lords where he was sitting, and told Lemarchant what had passed, and that the case ought not to be thus hurried on. He thanked me very much, and said he would go to Brougham; [120] but he soon returned, and said that the Chancellor would hear nothing, and would have the case brought on, and he therefore advised me not to give myself any further concern in it, and to leave him and Westmeath to settle it as they might. In the meantime Westmeath went down to the House of Lords, and after speaking to Wynford, whom the Chancellor had asked to attend (as he learnt from me), was going to get up in the House of Lords and attack him, and was only prevented by Wynford dragging him down by the tail of his coat. I had already spoken to Wynford, and I afterwards spoke to Lord Lansdowne, telling them that the case ought not to be hurried on in this peremptory way, and I persuaded Lord Lansdowne to set his face against it. However, in the meantime Wynford had urged the Chancellor to put it off, and not exasperate that madman, who would say or do something violent; and, whether from reason or fear, he prevailed on him. Wynford told me that Brougham is undoubtedly mad, and so I really believe he is. ..

The note above comes from Charles Greville’s memoirs; entry dated August 14, 1834.  It seems odd now that what would be considered a family court type of case (in the States) would involve the upper reaches of the judiciary system, but such was the case in the early 1800’s for the nobility. It appears that a substantial amount of time was devoted to Marquess George Nugent’s situation.  A  deed of separation had been granted at an earlier date (~ 1827), and some additional background is found in The Edinburgh Annual Register (volume 18), edited by Sir Walter Scott, and dated January 3rd, 1825:

Sessions Court, Dublin.
The trial of an indictment, which commenced on Monday, the 3d inst., has been before the Court for several days ;—the King, in the prosecution of the Marquis of Westmeath, v. Anne Connell alias Jones, John Monaghan, Edward Bennett, William Mackenzie, Bernard Maguire, and Patrick Farley. They were charged with conspiring falsely to accuse Lord Westmeath of adultery with Anne Connell, and thus to support Lady Westmeath's application for a divorce against Lord Westmeath. The depositions of the defendant, Anne Connell, were read, in which she swore to many repeated acts of adultery committed with Lord W.; her first acquaintance with him originating in the circumstance of her appearing before him, as a magistrate, to swear an illegitimate child to another person. On the other hand, Lord W. positively swore that he had never before seen the woman in his life; and all the consequences of this denial would follow as a matter of course. —On the third day, Mr. Justice Moore summed up, and the Jury returned a verdict of guilty against Anne Connell, John Monaghan, and Patrick Farley.—Mr Justice Moore: Gentlemen, I never saw or heard of a more reasonable and discerning verdict. It is creditable to yourselves, and of advantage to the public.

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