- Published: 25 November 2016 25 November 2016
Extraordinary breach of promise to marry-£400 damages - Leeds Times 5 March 1864:
At the Warwick assizes, on Thursday, a trial for breach of promise was heard before Mr. Justice Blackburn. Charlotte Emma Blackham, daughter of Mr. Blackham, pin manufacturer, Birmingham, was the plaintiff; and Mr. Thomas Pratt, thimble maker, of the same place, was the defendant.
The defendant is about sixty years of age, the plaintiff twenty-three. The defendant was in the habit of calling at plaintiff's house upon business. In February, 1863, he desired to have some private conversation with the plaintiff, and after telling her he desired to marry her, Mrs. Blackham was consulted.
The defendant said he wished to become the suitor of her eldest daughter if there was no objection of the part of her parents. He acknowledged he was rather old, but, to counterbalance that, he said he was worth between £7,000 and £8,000.
The defendant after that was received as the suitor of the plaintiff, and continued to visit her daily, walking her out, and introducing her to his friends as his future wife.
In April, defendant told Mrs. Blackham that his family had objected to his marrying the plaintiff, in consequence of the disparity in their age. Mrs. Blackham advised the defendant, under those circumstances, at once to give up the acquaintance, to which the defendant replied, "Oh, that is more than I can bear. It is nothing to do with my family. I have worked hard for my money, and they have already had their share. I am quite at liberty to marry, and I shall please myself about it."
The defendant became more than ever attentive to the plaintiff, and in May he said he should like to be married at once, and in the early part of June he said he would give £1,000 upon the day of her wedding, and, in addition to that, he should spend £600 on his country residence, to make her happy and comfortable. At the same time he made the plaintiff a present of a gold ring, which, however, was too small. He took it back, and said the next ring he bought her should be her wedding-ring.
The defendant continued to be very attentive to the plaintiff until September last, when he requested to have an interview with her mother. He then informed her that he should not be able to keep his promise in consequence of his daughter's opposition to the marriage, as she had told him if he got married she would never enter his home, and she would not allow him to visit her. Mrs. Blackham remonstrated, and reminded him of his promises.
The defendant said he was very sorry, but he had determined never to marry the plaintiff.-Mrs Blackham was called, and corroborated the above statement.
In reply to Mr. Serjeant O'Brien, she stated that the defendant did not look so old last year as he did that day in court, whereupon the defendant, an old-looking man, amidst the laughter of the court, said -"What 'muses you; I suppose I look older now when I did when I proposed to your daughter?"-Witness: You look years older.-In answer to Mr. Serjeant O'Brien, the witness stated that the defendant presented her daughter with the ring in August.-The defendant, in a very excited manner, said he never gave her a ring; she took it from his finger.
The plaintiff, a well-dressed young lady, here rose, and said, "That was another ring." (Renewed laughter.)-The learned judge: We cannot allow either the plaintiff or defendant to appear in the case.-Verdict for plaintiff, damages £400.
NOTE: A quick search of online records suggests that Charlotte Emma Blackham did not marry. There is a 1911 census entry for a Charlotte Emma Blackham, single, aged 70, born Birmingham, Warwickshire about 1841 living at 42 Hamstead Road, Handsworth, Birmingham, Staffordshire. There is also a possible death in Birmingham in 1915.