Mr Hooks, 1862

From the Oxford Journal, 15 February 1862:

“An amusing breach of promise case came before the Dublin Court of Exchequer on Friday. The plaintiff is Miss Agnes Harrison, a lady of thirty-five summers, who resides with her brother in Armagh… the ungallant defendant, who rejoices in the euphonious name of Hooks, is one of the ‘ruling elders’ of the local Covenanting congregation, and has gone far beyond the allotted ‘three score years and ten’…

[S]o strange was the appearance of the reluctant lover, that the bag boys and loungers of the Four Courts… mocked him when walking about… the courts, and hooted him with cries of ‘Hooks! Hooks! down the quays…

[T]he defendant, who, when at home, wears the best broadcloth and good clothes, being a comfortable farmer worth £1000… appeared ridiculously and fantastically dressed in wretchedly poor clothes, with his face dirty and his appearance very squalid, in order that the Jury might be led to believe that he was in extreme poverty. The fair suitor laid her damages in the sum of £300, and the defendant pleaded a denial…

Much laughter was occasioned by… the defendant when in the witness box, especially when at the close… he turned to the Lord Chief Justice and in a mysterious and confidential manner inquired of him: ‘Does your lordship think the case is going in my favour?’

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, damages £20.”

Not a bad result for the wily Mr Hooks! The judge must have had a soft spot for him too, since, according to the Belfast Newsletter of 11 February 1862, he was allowed to evade the awaiting public at the end of the trial by “withdrawing stealthily” through his Lordship’s private chamber!

Picture credit: Theophile-Alexander Steinlen, via Arthive.

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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