!! Connaught Journal; July 29, 1824 "McGowan v. Mitchell" Part 1
- THE CONNAUGHT JOURNAL
Galway, Thursday, July 29, 1824
AT NISI PRIUS - COMMON PLEAS DUBLIN
McGOWAN v. MITCHELL
Mr. Burke opened the pleadings. - The Damages were laid at 3,000l.
Mr. Wallace offered to withdraw a Juror, which was not agreed to.
Mr. Hamilton, K.C. stated the case. This was an action brought to recover
damages for criminal conversation with the plaintiff's wife. The parties moved
in an humble but respectable line of life, in which an evil of this kind was of
a more severe nature than in higher ranks; while the wealth of the parties, the
dissolution of the matrimonial tie, and the probable formation of a new
connubial contract, present remedies which in this class of society could not be
looked for. The plaintiff, early in life, was married to a young lady,
(Henrietta Tuke) the daughter of a professor of music, one of the vicars-choral
of this city, who dying, left his family in comfortable circumstances; when she
was 16, plaintiff married Miss Tuke, at her mother's house in Hardwicke-street.
[The witnesses in this case were ordered to withdraw, and his Lordship
observed it was a hard case, apparently on the ladies, to be obliged to
The parties were married by the Rev. M. Morgan, in 1809. Mr. M'Gowan
obtained 500l. on the occasion, and commenced trading as a wine merchant. For
some time they lived on the happiest terms; three children were the issue of the
marriage; M'Gowan failed in business but the embarrassments which ensued did not
seem to lessen their happiness. Anxious to obtain the means of support for his
wife and children, Mr. M'Gowan became the conducting clerk in a Solicitor's
office, which office he has continued to fill from the moment of his failure to
the present time. A Major Blake had occasion to send a commission for the
examination of witnesses to the West Indies. The plaintiff was sent on that
business.- Plaintiff and defendant were intimate, and on visiting terms; but
previous to his departure for the West Indies, not the slightest improper
intercourse took place between him and Mrs. M'Gowan.
The defendant holds an employment in the post-office, where the salaries
are progressive; on going abroad the plaintiff placed his wife in the care of
most respectable friends and relatives; Mrs. M'G. lived therefore with her
sister. Shortly after the plaintiff's departure, defendant paid close attention
to his friend's wife, and not only prevailed over her virtue, but obtained from
time to time considerable sums of money for his own expences. He (Mr. Hamilton)
would show, if rightly instructed, that a criminal intercourse had taken place
between the parties during Mr. M'Gowan's absence. Early in December, 1820,
plaintiff had no reason to suspect his wife, but found her, as he supposed,
pure, chaste, and virtuous; he had the greatest confidence in her; he trusted
her with the management of his pecuniary affairs; he entrusted her on his return
with a sum of money for the payment of a particular debt, which she omited to
discharge; and if he was rightly instructed, she gave the money to her paramour.
The consequence of which was, that in 1824, M'Gowan was arrested and thrown into
a prison. While in confinement (for 12 months) his wife was at Richmond, near
Dublin, in lodgings, where the criminal intercourse was continued; Mr. M'Gowan
surprised the defendant in a critical situation; they both denied that any crime
had been committed, and took each and oath to affirm their assertion. Lovers'
vows were soon broken, and in June, 1823, the lady left her husband's lodgings,
and went off with the defendant, leaving her three children, and cohabited with
the defendant in several places. These were the facts of the case. Mr. Hamilton
said he called on the Jury to consider the treachery of the defendant, and the
injury offered to the plaintiff in depriving him of every domestic comfort. No
pecuniary compensation could make him amends, for he never could be separated
from this woman, but must end his days a widower, who had a wife living- that
wife a disgrace to his children and himself.
Jane Kirk examined by Mr. Brooke- Stated that she was sister to the
plaintiff's wife; and was present at her marriage to Mr. M'Gowan, by Mr. Moore
Morgan, Curate of George's Church, in July or August 1809; her mother lived then
in Hardwicke-street; was in the musical line, and in comfortable circumstances;
the plaintiff and his wife lived on the best terms; he was one of the best of
husbands, she the most affectionate of wives, and fondest of mothers; this state
continued nearly ever since she knew them; no separation took place before
M'Gowan went to the West Indies; a separation took place about a year ago;
witness knows the defendant; the plaintiffs conduct towards him was kind,
hospitable and friendly; he was more like a brother to him than anything else;
defendant frequently visited at the plaintiff 's house; the plaintiff's wife
lived at Black-rock with witness while Mr. M'Gowan was in the West Indies; in
April 1822, she remembers a circumstance that occurred between the parties, she
however was not in the house, and can't tell; she does remember a family quarrel
at that time between plaintiff and his wife, the cause of which she does not
particularly know; he made the best arrangement he could for his wife's support;
the defendant visited at witness's house in December, 1821; she saw the
defendant kiss Mrs. M'Gowan; she spoke about this to Mrs. M'Gowan; the defendant
seemed much vexed about it. [ Here Lord Norbury bid the witness come near him,
observing that she seemed diverted by the subject.]
Mr. Wallace said, most ladies were interested on such a subject. -- Great
Lord Norbury - "Madam now that you are in so pleasant a mood tell us all
Witness - My Lord, in December, 1821, I saw them kiss each other.
Lord Norbury - "You saw which, you saw the plaintiff kiss the lady."
Mr. Wallace - She saw them kiss each other, my Lord, that is what she said.
Witness - Saw nothing more than merely kissing, but saw this after.
Mr. Brooke - Did you think -
Mr. Wallace - Don't ask a lady's opinion about kissing. -- (great
Witness resuming said, when she saw them kissing, she reproved them. She
here corrected herself, she wished to add it was he who had kissed the lady, but
she swears she did not see her return the kiss.
Cross-examined by Mr. Wallace - The kiss was only at one side; the
plaintiff was then in Ireland; witness did not tell the plaintiff, as she could
not think there was anything improper or criminal between them at the time;
plaintiff and his wife continued to live on the best terms; after that the
defendant continued to visit them both; though she permitted his visits to her
while Mrs. M'Gowan's husband was away, she considered them improper, and,
stamping her foot, the witness said, she permitted them.
Mr. Wallace - Did you consider yourself a pander?
Did he force his way?
No, did you force your way here, Sir? Defendant visited her every day.
Mr. Wallace - Madam, did the plaintiff turn his wife out four times? No;
three times; No; twice. No, on (with a grin at Mr. Wallace) no, (Great
Laughter) - She came voluntarily to chat; to speak, to learn how to act; she
slept with witness. How long - a week? No. A night? Two nights. Did she sleep
with you and your husband? No; (with a laugh and a grin) no, Sir - (Great
Laughter._ - When witness and her sister chatted, she said they drank water.
Mr. Wallace - Anything else? Buttermilk.
Anything else? Tea; put in tea if you please, nothing else.
Anything going to bed- was it stiffened with anything? No; (with a frown
which excited merriment.)
Where has your sister lodged for the last six months? I am sure it is not
necessary for you to know. (Laughter)
Answer me. Well, then, Sir, she lives in Grang-gorman-lane; - since
All-holland-tide witness, the husband, and her sister, have not been all three
Had you buttermilk, water, or cocoa then; - indeed we had not- (laughter
heartily.) - She delivered two letters, which were handed in and marked, were in
Anne Corlet was the next witness- she was examined by Mr. Hamilton, King's
Counsel- Proved that she lived as servant in the plaintiff's family five years;
it is eight years since she left them; - in April 1811 they had a child three
months old, and were in great union and happiness; she was a prudent and good
wife; they had three children when witness left them; the children are all
alive, she believes.
Mr. Richards cross-examined the witness.
Mr. James Taylor proved the affectionate conduct of Mr. and Mrs. M'Gowan
during his intimacy with them; he has not seen them together for five or six
...to be continued...
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News