Breach of Promise to Marry

Tucker v Beveridge 1892





12 September 1892

A Sheriff's Court was held at the Castle of Exeter on Monday, before the Under Sheriff (Mr. E. H. Houlditch), when Miss Jane Tucker, of Bow, North Devon, sought to recover damages from G. W. Betteridge, residing at 5, Sidney Villas, Bournemouth.- Mr. Dunn represented the plaintiff. It was stated that the action had been commenced and judgement had been allowed to go by default, and the jury were summoned to say what the damages the plaintiff was entitled to. Mr Dunn said Miss Tucker was a spinster and was residing at Bow. The defendant was a guard on the South Western Railway. The parties first met in 1886 and, their affection ripening in September, 1888 became engaged. There were guards and guards, some in receipt of much better salary than others. On the 8th of November last year defendant wrote that there had been a certain amount of bickering, because he had received "this berth, which is reckoned to be one of the best berths on the line, and they want to know how I got it. By looking after my work and not spending my time in public- houses when I ought to be at work, which they hardly like." He concluded, “Believe me, my own darling Jannie," and signed himself "your loving Willie.'—ln answer to a juryman, Miss Tucker stated that she had an engagement ring from defendant. Upwards of 300 letters had passed between the parties and they were engaged until February of this year. The plaintiff's father died about then, and on the very morning of the funeral defendant wrote a letter in which he hinted that he was "in trouble and did not altogether desire to continue the engagement"

Then on the 7th of February she received a letter beginning "Dear Jannie," and stating that he hardly knew how to write this "terrible letter," but it must be done." When he was at Hounslow he became acquainted with a young person who used to travel by train, and having "nothing to occupy his evenings" he, after repeated invites, paid a visit to her house and it soon became apparent that he was the object of her affections." The acquaintance ripened into an intimacy. She came to live near him, and undue familiarities occurred, and he was compelled to marry her. This was the reason he gave for desiring to break off the engagement with the plaintiff. He concluded, “God knows I love you dearly, and was looking forward to claiming you as mine; but now I have forfeited that claim; you could not have associated yourself with a man guilty of so dishonourable an action." The plaintiff’s uncle wrote to him asking for an explanation, and for some compensation. He replied “It is impossible to marry her, and as to compensation I would gladly compensate her had I the means, but my wages are only a guinea a week, and it costs me that to live here ". Mr Dunn said he should prove that was not so. In another letter he wrote, “What compensation do you expect me to pay, seeing that I only visited her three times during four and a half years we knew each other." Mr Dunn said the defendant had been guilty of very cruel conduct, and the plaintiff should he given substantial damages. He asked for fifty guineas. The plaintiff said she resided at Bow, and became acquainted with defendant in 1886. They were engaged in September, 1888 and corresponded regularly. She had 300 letters from him. He said he was saving £30 a year. His wages were 23s and the average of "tips” was 35s. She corroborated Mr. Dunn's statement. Mr John Baker, plaintiff's uncle, also gave evidence.

The learned Sheriff having summed up the case the jury retired, and after about half an hour's consideration gave a verdict for £26.

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