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PHIL ROBINSON’S DIVORCE., Issue 7957, 12 July 1889, Supplement
PHIL ROBINSON’S DIVORCE.
MRS ROBINSON CONDUCTS HER OWN CASE.
A STRANGE STORY,
London, May 24.
That versatile, vivacious, and—l fear with regard to the fair ics—volatile genius, Phil Robinson, has surprised all but a few old friends “ in the know” by coming out on Monday last in the unexpected and somewhat uuamiable role of respondent in a scandalous divorce suit. Few of us knew Phil was married, fewer still that his spouse contemplated severely aggressive proceedings. The matter was kept a profound secret; in fact, so well did Master Phil play his cards that but for an energetic liner whom he carelessly neglected to “square,” the case would never have got into the papers at all, 1 bear from a gentleman who was in Court that the proceedings elicited considerable amusement. Mrs Robinson is a determined, excitable woman, and insisted on conducting her own case. Again and again during the afternoon it was on the verge of falling to the ground, but somehow or another at the critical moment the buxom petitioner invariably managed to huot up an incident or a bit of evidence that just saved the situation. The general impression after the adjournment was that if Mrs Robinson had been represented by counsel her decree nini, with “ custody of the children,” would have been secure. Mr Inderwick, who represented respondent Robinson, seemed very anxious that the names of certain ladies should not leak out. Mrs Robinson’s case was the last on the list. She is a well-built lady, rather tall, of commanding figure, grey eyes, and dark hair tinged with grey. Her full face and square, resolute jaw denoted that she was a woman of determination and perseverance. She said she married Mr Robinson in December, 1876, and bad two children—a girl and a boy, aged nine and eleven years. In her petition she asked for a dissolution of marriage on the ground of cruelty aud adultery; but when she stood before Justice Butt and opened her case she added another charge—four years’ desertion. Justice Butt said that he could not take “desertion” into consideration unless it were stated in the petition, and looking over the papers be was unable to find the charge there specified. However, he would hear what she had to say. Witness went on to state that in September and October of 1882 she was left with her children—one dying—without money for support. In reply to a question she said that Mr Robinson had just abandoned his position on the ‘ Daily Telegraph,’ which brought him an income of LI,OOO a year. She left her husband in 18S3 because of certain letters that she had discovered addressed to a lady, but in a week she went back again to her home. Her husband gave her a great quantity of morphia in February, which made her very ill indeed. “He forced it down my throat. After that he put me into an asylum. The morphia had affected my head,” The morphia was given her in February, and she was sent to the asylum in March. With considerable emotion she went on : “My husband sold all my effects —sixteen trunks containing my wedding presents, jewellery, and clothing.” As the lady was explaining how badly she was treated Justice Butt raid that he could not understand how she could have been left without means to support a dying child when eho bad sixteen trunks of jewellery and wedding presents in her possession.
Sho said that no money was left her to live upon. The Justice said that) she had already stated that her husband had abandoned his position on the 1 Daily Telegraph,’ yielding him an income of Ll,ooo a year. Perhaps that accounted for his want of money. She went on to explain that she was cruelly treated, which testimony, under the ruling of the Court, could not be considered. Then the Justice told her to call her witnesses, if she had any. The first of her witnesses, Mr Thomas Tuft, a house painter, possessing a short, well-built body and a long flowing beard, said that in 1884 he was requested by a nurse at the house where Mrs Robinson was living to go for medicine, Ho did not know what the medicine was of his own knowledge, but was told it was morphia, and he was repeating what someone had said about her danger—that sho was being ill-treated and so on—when the witness was told that hearsay evidence could not be received. The next witness—a Mr Samuel Platt, of Somerset House, and in the Civil Service—had considerable to say, but it was not evidence. The matter of sending the lady to the asylum by her husband was again brought up, when Justice Butt said that such an act might ho gross cruelty, yet it might bo one of great kindness to her. Addressing the lady, he said: “Mrs Robinson, you have been here before ; these matters are not at issue now, you must confine yourself to what is in the petition,” “ I can prove adultery. Shall I prove it now ?”
“Call your witnesses.” William Barker, steward on the steamer Drummond Castle, entered the box, and said that on May 10, 1884, a gentleman and lady, under the names of Mr and Mrs Robinson, took passage on the steamer at Lisbon for England. They occupied the same cabin, passed the time in each other’s company, and gave the passengers to understand that they were man and wife. Witness attended on them himself.
The next witness, Jane Shingleton, the stewardess of the same ship, corroborated the testimony of the steward. The next witness was a young girl in a brown dress. She was apparently about eighteen years old. She said that she was once in the employ of Mrs Robinson as a servant for about five months, and sbe swore to certain nameless propositions which Mr Robinson made to her when she was only thirteen years old. On the following morning on arising he told her to say nothing to his wife, and he offered her a sovereign to keep silent, which she refused to accept. No crime was committed because of her youth. In reply to this, Justice Butt said it could not be considered evidence of the crime charged in the petition. “ Have you any other witnesses—is this all you can prove ? ” he asked, “ I have another statement,” Mrs Robinson replied, “which is in writing, and was taken before a Special Commission.” “Is it here? give it to me,” said the Justice quickly. There was a rustle all over the court room, and ladies in the gallery and in the benches below leaned forward with new interest, while the silence became profound. The document was a deposition from Robert Boyd, chief steward of another vesa;l of the same line, corroborating the statements of the previous witnesses.
In response to all this, Justice Butt said that there was abundance of evidence to show that a man Robinson had travelled on the ships mentioned with a woman ivhomhe claimed was his wife, and who it bad been proved was not the Mrs Robinson now bringing the action before him ; but that the man was her husband had not been proved. The identification had not been completed. Addressing Mrs Robinson the Justice said : “ What you should do is to have the steward or the stewardess see Mr Robinson face to face and identify him as the man who took passage on the Drummond Castle and made the voyage from Lisbon to England ; that will bo a very easy way of completing the case.”
Next a discussion ensued in regard to a motion from the lady for the custody of her two children. Then for the first time there was a movement among the barristers. Mr Indenvick, one of the leaders, addressed the Court, and said : “ There aio some things your Lordship should hear before the children are given into her custody,” To which His Lordship replied with vigor: “ I will not listen to a man’s explanation about hta children until he has given them up, as I have ordered. I made the order myself, and Mr Robinson has not complied with it.” The barrister was explaining still further, when suddenly the Justice seemed to catch Ids meaning, and said : “ Do you say that it is dangerous for the children to go out of the custody of their father ? ” “ Yes, that’s just it,” replied the barrister. “That is a different matter, and I will not say that I will not listen to an explanation if it is of a serious character.” This, however, did not disconcert the lady, who was managing her case, and she, too, said that she had some facts to present that would show why the children should be with her. The Justice looked at her papers a moment, and said that he would adjourn the case and give her a chance to have her witnesses—the two stewards—identify her husband as the man who was on the steamer with the strange woman. Then the barrister said (in reply to Mrs Robinson’s statement that her husband could not be found, although they had looked for him) that no obstacle would be thrown in the way of identification, and if the steward would communicate with Messrs Keighley and Arnold, in Old Jewry, they would give him an opportunity to see the defendant in the case and identify him.
PHIL ROBINSON’S DIVORCE., Issue 7957, 12 July 1889, Supplement
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