A Successful Haunted House Defence, 1885

From the Cambridge Independent Press, 28 February 1885:

A remarkable case was heard on Saturday in Dublin. Mr Waldron, a solicitor’s clerk, sued his next door neighbour, who is a mate in the merchant service, named Kiernan, to recover £500 damages for injuries done to his house. Kiernan denied the charge, and asserted that Waldron’s home was haunted and that the acts complained of were done by spirits or some person in plaintiff’s place…

Every night from August 1884, to January 1885, [Waldron’s] hall door was continually being knocked at and his windows broken by stones which came from the direction of defendant’s yard. Mrs Waldron swore that one night she saw one of the panes of glass in the window cut through with a diamond. A white hand was inserted through the hole it made in the glass. She caught up a billhook and made a blow at the hand, cutting one of the fingers completely off… the hand was then withdrawn, but on her examining the place, she could find neither the finger nor any traces of blood…

Kiernan’s family, on being taxed with causing the noises, denied such was the case, and suggested it was the work of ghosts, and advised the Waldrons to send for a Roman Catholic clergyman to rid the house of its uncanny occupants.

A police constable swore that one evening he saw Waldron’s servant kick the door with her heels at about the time the rapping usually commenced.

Chief Justice Morris said the affair suggested the performances of the Davenport Brothers, was quite inexplicable from the absence of motive, and remained shrouded in the mysterious uncertainty of the Man with the Iron Mask…

The jury found for the defendant.”

A rare-as-hens-teeth legal acknowledgment of the existence of ghosts or an example of how those who work in the law should never be litigants?

You decide!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

Leave a Reply