Sandymount Lady Sues English Lieutenant for Breach of Promise, 1920

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From the Dublin Evening Telegraph, 31 March 1920:


Today in the King’s Bench Division, before Mr Justice Dodd, in the action of Sarah Reynolds, of 41 Londonbridge Road, Sandymount, Dublin, v Wm B Huskisson, Mr CS Campbell (instructed by Mr DA Quaid) applied for an order giving leave to issue and serve a writ out of the jurisdiction. The cause of action was breach of promise of marriage.

Counsel moved on the affidavit of the plaintiff, who stated that the intended defendant had been for several months resident in Ireland whilst his regiment had been stationed at Wellington Barracks, Dublin, he being then a lieutenant in the North Lancashire Regiment. She first met him in Dublin towards the end of July 1918.

Londonbridge Road, Sandymount. No. 41 is third from left.

Their acquaintance ripened into affection, and when visiting her mother’s house, 41 Londonbridge Road, Sandymount, he proposed marriage to her. Thereafter he constantly visited at her mother’s house as her accepted suitor and repeatedly alluded to their forthcoming marriage taking place in a very short time.

Mr Justice Dodd – The hand of a skilled draughtsman is obvious in the framing of this (Laughter).

The affidavit proceeded to state that when the intended defendant was about being transferred from Dublin to England, in course of demobilization in May, 1919, he promised to return to Dublin to marry her within six weeks, telling her that she might make all arrangements. She accordingly made the necessary arrangements for their marriage, and her mother and herself went to considerable expense in connection with the intended marriage but the defendant had never returned to Dublin. He subsequently wrote letters to her and to her mother in reference to his breaking off the engagement.

The letters contained intimation that the intended defendant was unable to carry out his promise to marry her, the grounds of his inability to do so being stated to be that he was not in a position to enable him to marry. But from statements made to her, and from information she had acquired through her solicitor, she had every reason to believe that the suggestion made by the intended defendant as to his circumstances in these letters quite misleading, and was designed with the object of endeavouring to justify the breaking off of the engagement.

She was informed that the defendant’s father, who lived at ‘The Knowle’ near Preston, Lancashire, died last May. Her solicitor had learned that the father was well off, being reputed to have property in Preston. As he died very suddenly, it is believed he did not make a will, and that the intended defendant was entitled to a share of his property.

Mr Justice Dodd granted the application.”

Mr Justice Dodd. A man with a sense of humour – much needed, as he was the High Court judge who primarily dealt with breach of promise cases.

Although there is no record of the final outcome of the case, the trusting and hospitable Reynolds family of 41 Londonbridge Road were back in the news again in December 1930 as victims of former convict Michael Thomas Brosnan, alias O’Brien, Byrne and Kelly, who had obtained lodgings on credit from them by professing to be an engineer specialising in wireless telephony and holding a position of great importance in the service of the General Post Office.

Sarah’s mother, Mrs Reynolds, told Judge Little in the Dublin Police Court that she had been impressed by the ‘airs’ and statements of the defendant and because he kept on announcing that ‘he would get his cheque on Thursday’ she lent him several small sums in cash amounting to £1 5s 3d, which were never repaid. When asked if she expected to get them back, she replied philosophically: ‘Well, how can I, seeing where he is now.’

Mrs Reynolds’ son Charles and sister Maud also gave evidence for the prosecution, but there was no reference to Sarah – hopefully she adopted a similarly philosophical approach to her jilting and found a replacement suitor of greater fidelity!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

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