Law Library Staff Member Leaves Bride at Altar, 1842

From the Dublin Monitor, 8 August 1842, an interesting account of an action for breach of promise brought by Maria Ormsby, of North Strand, against William Supple, a member of staff in the Law Library:

“Mr P Casserly, for the Plaintiff, said that he need not tell the jury, that a person holding office in the Law Library must, to a certain extent be respectable and no matter how humble in life was the situation of his client, the injuries to her peace of mind and youthful prospects were not to be disregarded. 

About three or four years ago, the defendant became acquainted with the plaintiff; when first he pressed his suit, the plaintiff, in the innocence of comparative childhood, treated his protestation as a joke, but the apparent earnestness of his manner and the continuance of his vows worked so intensely upon her youthful feelings that the love which she once thought the idle offering of the lip seemed to her as the offspring of a devoted heart. 

Time rolled over, and on one occasion lately he called to the mother’s house, and in the course of conversation, he stated that he was going to a wedding.  ‘Indeed!” said one of the family “It is time you should be going to your own.”   So ended the conversation on the subject that night, but, finally, he acted manfully and solicited the plaintiff’s hand from her parents. The plaintiff immediately set about making preparations for the nuptials, the wedding clothes were bought, the ring purchased, the respected clergyman of the parish was retained to perform the ceremony, but when the arrangements were complete, the bride habited in her marriage dress, and the clergy man actually waiting to discharge his office, no bride’s man was to be found.  Seven o’clock came, and, matters being at a stand sill, the father went to a tavern on Summerhill, where he found him carousing.  He charged him with neglect, and he answered the accusation by demanding no less a sum than £150 as a fortune, otherwise he would forbid the banns.

Mr Walsh addressing the jury for the defence described Supple as a young man subject to habits of intemperance, entrapped into an engagement with a girl in a humbler walk of life than that in which he was used to moving.  This young man was on a salary of 10 or 12 shillings a week, and damages were modestly laid at £100 – the object of the action plainly was to sell the girl to a certain extent in a court of law.

The jury awarded the plaintiff the sum of £10 plus costs.”

Perhaps because of the publicity arising from this case, Mr Supple seems to have been moved elsewhere fairly shortly afterwards.  He is described in The Dublin Almanac of 1847 as Keeper of the Rolls’ Court, residing at 12 Mary’s Abbey.  He still held this position in 1853, but after that there are no further references.

On the 9th June 1867, a William Supple of 6 West Liffey Street, Dublin, employed as caretaker of the reptiles in the Zoological Gardens, died after being bitten by one of the serpents (a python).  I wonder was it the same Mr Supple?

Miss Ormsby was described in the newspaper report above as ‘interesting,’ which was the euphemism of the day for a good-looking woman, and, indeed, Counsel for Mr Supple complained about her being dressed up in court for the sole purpose of impressing the jury.  I hope the damages helped console her for her disappointing wedding day!

Happy Christmas to all our wonderful Law Library staff!

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Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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