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An action for damages for breach of promise to marry which was of an umisu’J character has been heard at the Hertford Assizes. The plaintiff was a young woman named Anna Maria Palmer, aged 24, daughter of a grocer at Sotherey, Norfolk ; the defendant, John Wootton, was, the son of a farmer in good position at. the same place, and was about one year j hunger. He pleaded that he had never made a promise of marriage, and that if he had it was mutually rescinded, and he also pleaded that he was not of age when tie alleged promise was made. It rvas not disputed that the promise was originally made when the defendant was not of ago, hut the case for the plaintiff was that the promise was renewed after he rvas 21, and counsel said lie should produce letters to show that the defendant promised to marry the plaintiff after he came of age. He said he believed that a very serious issue would he raised upon these letters, inasmuch as he was informed that the defendant declared that he had never had any correspondence with the plaintiff after the intimacy had been broken off, and that the dates of these letters were forgeries. The intimacy between the defendant and the plaintiff was not agreeable to the parents of the former, and they were obliged to meet secretly, and all the letters that passed between them were conveyed by a trusty messenger, and it appeared to have been the practice of the defendant not to put any date to the letters. Plaintiff’s father got into difficulties and removed to Watford, and hj 1879 the defendant married another la%, who was said to be possessed of coussferable property, and the present action was commenced. A number of letters ©f' the usual character were read which showed that the parties were on very affectionate terms, and there were expressions in them that amounted to a pvon\ise. of marriage. The only question ii\ the case was, as above stated, whether- these letters were written before or after the defendant came of age. At the time the original intimacy occurred the. plaintiff was 19 and the defendant 18 years old. In the year 1870 \he plaintiff became acquainted with another man and was seduced, and delivered of a child in 1877. Nothing mor-a seems to have taken place between tir® parties until the month of January, 1579; when she wrote a letter to the defendant claiming £SOO damages for the breach! of Iris promise to marry her, and threatened to bring an action against him if he- did not comply with her requests The plaintiff was called, and deposed, that she and the defendant were teachers at the Surday-sehool at Sotherey, and she used i to play the harmonium and, he used to j teach. He repeatedly told’ her that as j soon as he was of age andt took a farm he would marry her; and after she left Sotherey the labourers on the farm of defendant’s father used to bring her letters from him. She then told the story of her seduction. The child, she said, was born in January, 1877. She was living with the father of the child, a married man, keeping house for him, and he gave her something to drink that made her insensible. Lord Justice Bramwell here interposed, and asked if it was possible for the jury to find that there was an engagement to marry existing between the parties after she had had a child by another man ? The jury said they did not wish tc hear any more of the case, returned a verdict for the defendant. Lord Justice Bramwell said that it was the most impudent action he had, ever heard of. It was not pretended that; any communication had taken place I between the parties for years, and then I the action was brought for the supposed ; preach of promise to many.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 106, 29 May 1880

Word Count

A MOST IMPUDENT ACTION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 106, 29 May 1880