Affidavit of Eugene Plummer McCarthy, July 1858

In Her Majesty’s Court for Divorce & Matrimonial Causes

Verling falsely called McCarthy



Affidavit of Eugene Plummer McCarthy in support of an answer

In Her Majesty’s Court for Divorce & Matrimonial Causes

Emily McCarthy formely Verling petitioner

Eugene Plummer McCarthy respondent

Affidavit of respondent verifying and supporting answer

Wm F Morris

13 Beaufort Buildings


In Her Majesty’s Court for Divorce & Matrimonial Causes

Emily McCarthy formely Verling petitioner

Eugene Plummer McCarthy respondent

I, Eugene Plummer McCarthy of thirteen Beaufort Buildings Strand in the county of Middlesex, Attorney at law and Notary Public, the above named respondent make oath and say

  1. That I was not upon the occasion of my first marriage married at at Cullenswood, Ranelagh in the county of Dublin as alleged by petitioner, and that it is untrue that I deserted my first wife.
  2. That if it be the fact that my first wife be still alive I humbly submit that some more authentic and reliable evidence thereof should be offered than the unsupported and interested averment of the petitioner herself.
  3. That in the event of any such evidence being procurable, a prosecution for bigamy should be instituted against me which I am ready and desirous of defending.
  4. That I never before heard her death questioned or disputed until it was done so by the petitioner, being instigated thereto, as I fully believe, by one George Wilson Grove, and it is scarcely consistent with the fact of the existence of my first wife that although I resided nearly continuously for fourteen years in the vicinity of the city of Cork practising as a solicitor and Notary, no single claim or demand for or in respect of any such alleged existing wife was ever made on me directly or indirectly although the woman now alleged and set up by petitioner as my first wife was during the whole of said time, as I am informed and believe a native and resident in the city of Cork, where she was a common prostitute several years previous to my first marriage and still continues so.
  5. That I was unfortunately married to petitioner at the time and place alleged by her when it was unnecessary to have done so as she had been cohabiting with me previous to marriage without any scruple or compunction, and it was petitioner herself who allured me into a connection with her and planned and suggested the various places of meeting, and also took the various lodgings where I cohabited with her before marriage, the two last of said places being at Brompton and Holloway, at Brompton 24 Pelham Road, at Holloway, St Alban’s Cottage in the vicinity of St James’ church.
  6. That although such cohabitation was and is well known to several persons, petitioner made oath previous to her marriage before William Moore Drew esquire, a Justice of the Peace at Queenstown in Ireland that she had not cohabited with me nor had ever seen me in London.
  7. That petitioner having so sworn falsely and denied upon her oath a fact capable of easy proof is unworthy of any credit and the more so as she has been declared by the Reverend Mr Eyre now of Northampton who was sometime her spiritual advisor to be an Atheist and utterly destitute of all moral or religious principles, her mind having been depraved and demoralised by a Roman Catholic Priest, the Reverend Patrick O’Dwyer with whom she had had an intrigue previous to the misfortune of my marriage with her, which I did not then know. Cardinal Wiseman and several of his clergy are perfectly acquainted with what I state about petitioner and said O’Dwyer.
  8. That by my marriage with petitioner I fell from a position of independence and respectability as petitioner was not associated with by even the members of her own family, her two brothers, one a clergyman, the other a surgeon in the Navy passing her unnoticed, which I subsequently learnt was in consequence of her intrigue with O’Dwyer.
  9. That I lived with petitioner subsequent to my marriage until the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty five in which year I became acquainted with George Wilson Grove who had been a solicitor and was then keeping terms for the Bar at Middle temple, he was then also a second time a widower with one son, and three daughters, the eldest of whom was nearly as old as petitioner and said Grove himself nearly fifty years of age, which facts with all the plausible professions of interest and friendship made by him for petitioner’s and my welfare disarmed all suspicion I’m my mind particularly when he seemed so attentive to his religious duties, having his prayer-book and Bible upon his table at his chambers.
  10. That upon one occasion, a Sunday, I went accompanied by petitioner, to call upon said Grove at his chambers, and found said Grove apparently very devotionally engaged with his prayer-book, whereupon petitioner observed to me “that man can not be a bad man”, but before we left said chambers a prostitute knocked at his door and enquired for him of me who opened the door for her, I then began to know the man’s true character and that he was a hypocrite masking infamy and profligacy under the guise of sanctity, he made a bungling apology and said the woman came to enquire for the gentleman on the upper floor, however  peremptorily cautioned petitioner against ever trusting herself alone with him as I believed him to be a base and treacherous hypocrite.
  11. That in Trinity term one thousand eight hundred and fifty eight Grove was refused his call to the Bar and in the ensuing November he left England pretending he was going to Italy for his health-sake, I did not know he was refused his call for fraud and misappropriation of trust funds, and that he was nearly dependent upon his father’s means for his support.
  12. That within a month after said Grove’s leaving England petitioner left me to proceed to Paris for the avowed purpose of perfecting herself as a singer said Grove having forwarded thirty pounds to her and having also agreed to allow her a hundred and twenty pounds a year until she would be ultimately able to repay him upon her success as a singer, and never supposing said Grove would pursue petitioner to Paris and always hearing her speaking the most contemptuous terms of the intellect of said Grove, designating him “ a poor trifling animal”. I permitted her to go, and it was also arranged by said Reverend Mr Eyre she should reside with some friends of his while in Paris
  13. That on the day of departure from London, petitioner was accompanied by a Mrs Thomas who was proceeding to Brussels and I subsequently discovered petitioner left Mrs Thomas at Folkestone and went to Amiens in France which is a junction of the railway to Brussels although Mrs Thomas was travelling to the same destination and would have accompanied petitioner to Amiens where petitioner remained three days, and I am now thoroughly convinced petitioner spent said three days there with said Grove.
  14. That on her arrival at Paris she wrote to me she could not reside with the family intended for her by the Reverend Mr Eyre, and about the same time I received a letter from said Grove dated at Brussels that “ poor little Mrs Mac Carthy must feel sadly at a loss in such a queer place as Paris,” and as if it was immaterial to him where he resided if I desired it he would at once go to Paris and asking of me to conceal his going there “to prevent tongues babbling about it” to which letter I replied the next post promptly and positively interdicting his going, and that ill-nature had while he was in England been busy connecting my wife’s name with his, and also telling him I was daily becoming better informed of the libertinism of his character from the number of unfortunate women coming to enquire for him and that I would sooner put a stone around my wife’s neck and fling her into the Thames than to have him about her.
  15. That I the same post informed petitioner of said Grove’s request and of my reply to it, to which petitioner wrote a letter now in my possession highly approving of my reply and indignantly censuring said Grove, and that if he attempted going to Paris she would not remain there to be spoken of as she could not be too particular as she was away from her husband, and also wishing “may the Devil take him the brainless jack-ass” meaning said Grove.
  16. That paying no attention either to my entreaties or interdiction nor to the injury which he confessed must ensue if his going was known said Grove went to Paris and positively refused to leave it again and although I used every effort to induce petitioner to act upon her declaration of leaving if he remained she persisted in remaining there and thenceforward to defend said Grove and to calumniate me.
  17. That I wrote and asked said Grove why and for what did he go to Paris? when he confessed the injury certain to arise from his act to which inquiry he wrote to me replying “ I will not condescend to answer you.”
  18. That I then wrote to said Grove’s father detailing his son’s conduct and the profligacy of his character and asking his interposition and also writing that even had his character been ever so moral and spotless he would still be compromising the reputation of petitioner and be inflicting an injury upon her character.
  19. That I being still unwilling to believe petitioner actually criminal and that the acquisition of the object ostensively in view by her made her submit to the infliction of said Grove’s presence, in which opinion I was further fortified by her indignant reprehension of his conduct and character and ridicule of his mental acquirements and personal appearance but when I saw she altered her demeanour and language, still believing her not unfaithful, I went to Paris at much inconvenience upon two occasions to try and induce petitioner to give up any intimacy with said grove or to leave Paris and return with me to London if said Grove’s persecution of her and me was not to cease.
  20. That upon the last occasion of my going to Paris I arrived early in the morning and as I was proceeding towards where petitioner was residing I saw said Grove loitering and waiting in the vicinity of her lodgings, I was naturally highly incensed and upon seeing petitioner I found her dressing to go out. I told her her persecutor was lying in wait for her, when she retorted upon me the most virulent invective and abuse, and declared that she would not leave Paris with me  and was thenceforward done with me, and that she had never read one of my letters but burned them as they reached her though all of said letters were written to her in the most agonising terms depicting the misery and disgrace she was ensuring to herself as well as to me.
  21. That I had not sufficient means to permit me to remain in Paris the better to detect and procure evidence of petitioner’s criminality, and as I saw the utter uselessness of striving to restrain a woman intent on her own ruin and who evinced such a complete disregard to her self-respect or to public opinion. I again returned to London wretched and heartbroken at finding her so shameless and worthless and at being so duped and deceived by her.
  22. That upon my return to London I communicated with the Revered Mr Eyre and put before him all the correspondence between petitioner and myself with said Grove’s letters. Mr Eyre wrote to petitioner several letters, and said Grove without being in the first instance addressed wrote to Mr Eyre an attempted vindication of his conduct, and there can be no doubt said Grove’s addressing Mr Eyre was suggested by petitioner as said Grove was entirely a stranger to him and was done in the hope of defeating the purpose for which I sought Mr Eyre’s interposition.
  23. That Mr Eyre in nearly all his letters to petitioner and to said Grove that petitioner was placed in a false position by said Grove in my absence and against my explicit wishes and insisting upon either petitioner or said Grove leaving Paris, all of which letters and the replies thereto were read to me by said Mr Eyre, and are I believe yet in his possession.
  24. That said Grove evaded leaving Paris but in each of said letters intimated an intention of leaving by a certain time “ if then necessary” which conditional expression was repeated in all his letters to Mr Eyre, and which expression was subsequently explained by said Grove transmitting to Mr Eyre a declaration made by an inmate of the workhouse in the city of Cork that she was my first wife, whereupon Mr Eyre addressed to said Grove the following letter, the original of which is now in my possession;

Cadogan Terrace, Chelsea

May 12 1856


Your last letter which was composed with a good deal of caution, you did not give me the shock you anticipated. My sole and entire object has been for and on behalf of Mrs Mac Carthy. To my mind the course I have to pursue is a clear and unmistakeable as any one street in a town. I have mad my propositions. I gave it as my final decision, and I have no change to make in it yet. I have succeeded in keeping Mr Mac Carthy quiet, but delays, accidents, etc, are rousing him and shaking my confidence, and if I feel I can no longer reasonably withstand his appeals and consent to let him loose woe betide the party he first runs at! After all that has been said and written by you and by Emily, is it, sir your place to take up the case you put? Are you in a position decently to interest yourself in proving Emily a single woman? Is the step likely to justify the past? Has Emily chosen you out as the man to take up her cause at the very moment she consented to escape from you by changing her abode and is professedly  insisting on your leaving Paris? Did you or did you not get the first history of this state of things from Emily herself? You will excuse me, Sir as I know nothing of you, except through this unfortunate business, if I say that nothing I have heard of you has damaged you so much as your own last letter now before me! Only think too what a position you put me in. You ask me to keep Mr Mac Carthy here. I am hesitating as to whether I am not bound in honour, as a gentleman, and in conscience as a Christian to tell him all and send him over instantly to Paris. He already knows you have tried to prove his marriage null. Am I then who has acted all along as his friend and his wife’s to tie his hands here, and let you plot at ease? I presume he has his tale to tell. Are you acting for Emily without her knowledge? Will she take it as a kindness to be proved a ruined woman? Are you acting a gentleman’s part? A gentleman in your position would at least for the sake of appearances employ another and satisfy himself with aiding and obtaining proofs, if even that much. Every time you speak of leaving Paris you add “should it then be necessary.” Now Sir, what has occurred to affect the previous position of things? You ask me for advice, my only advice to you is to act upon what I have already dictated as imperative. I have already told you my mind is clear upon the case. Leave Emily – Leave Paris! It is needless now to comment on the details of your composition. Ah, it is palpably insincere to use no stronger term. I return to the point with which I started. I have advised Emily. I have advised you. If my advice be not acted upon, I shall have no alternative. I must hand the whole matter over to Mr Mac Carthy to deal with as he thinks best. Unless I hear from you immediately in reply to this I shall act on my own discretion.

Meanwhile I am Sir yours etc.

V. Eyre.

25. That I am unacquainted with the reply given by the said Grove to said letter but that unsatisfactory and not calculated to raise him in Mr Eyre’s opinion can be readily inferred from Mr Eyre’s letter in reply to him dated May seventeenth one thousand eight hundred and fifty six, the original of which is also in my possession, and which is as follows:

“Sir, I have to acknowledge the receipt of yours of the 15th instant. The nature of that document leaves no other course open to me, but at once to decline all further communication with you”

I am Sir yours etc.

V. Eyre.

26. That I upon enquiry ascertained that the woman who had been induced by said Grove at the suggestion of the petitioner to make such declaration and to falsely represent herself as my first wife had been a prostitute in the city of Cork several years previous to my first marriage and that she continued and continues to be so still.

27. That Mr Eyre insisted on petitioner’s immediate return to London which she did in the month of May one thousand eight hundred and fifty six and was several days in London before I learned it, when I did so I went to her lodgings in Walton Street, Chelsea when I believed her absent and there I found several letters, some addressed to said Grove, amongst them the before mentioned two, and also some written by him all having reference to the concerted attempt to set up a prostitute as my first wife, all of which letters are in my possession.

28. That I was then further convinced with her complicity with Grove’s baseness, and as I was leaving her lodgings I met her at the door returning, when I asked whether she had brought any papers with her from Paris relating to Grove’s attempt, she replied she had not brought any, not knowing they were then in my possession.

29. That petitioner returned at said time to London without any luggage or property whatever, having left it all in Paris as a surety of her return there again.

30. That Mr Eyre was still desirous of believing petitioner did not participate in Grove’s plotting and that she had but acted with greta imprudence, at least he tried to persuade me so, he seemingly being led away by her solemn protestations and her repeatedly saying in his and my presence that if she “ wanted to be bad, it would not be such a worn out old rouè as Grove she would select.”

31. That I then replied to her in Mr Eyre’s presence “prove to me that Grove was not with you at Amiens, I shall try your fidelity by that single test, produce his passport, let me see its visées, if you be innocent, bad as he is I think he will not refuse, if he can, to take such a taint from you, and when you satisfy me, I shall then produce certificates of my first wife’s death and burial.”

32. That she faithfully promised that said passport should be produced, and Mr Eyre at her suggestion but against my express wishes wrote again to said Grove, that if he left Paris and permitted her to pursue her studies unmolested by him, she would return there, and she professed extreme anxiety to return in order to vindicate her reputation for me, when I replied “for heaven’s sake do so, and do not you too be added to your mother and aunt and be like them separated from their husbands.”

33. That she did return to Paris and Grove went to Rouen but she did not produce said passport or any evidence of her innocence for me although I wrote several letters earnestly urging her to do so, all of which letters she left unanswered.

34.  That I put before petitioner, and Mr Eyre, previous to her going as forcibly as I could the additional humiliation i would be subjected to, and petitioner also, if really innocent, by continuing to accept of Grove’s money after our knowledge of his baseness, but no arguments could restrain her, she would  “go to justify herself for me,”  I could not and would not receive her until she was fully disinfected from all the pestilence said Grove had in all his unfaltering heartlessness had heaped upon her.

35. That I said to Mr Eyre in her presence, having a conviction that she was deceiving both him and me, and was not sincere in her desire for vindication, “ Mark me Sir, you will find she is deceiving you and will deceive you as well as me.” I then pressed upon Mr Eyre his writing to some clergyman to visit her and awaken in her some religious convictions as she never said one prayer and never attended any religious services.

36. That I heard nothing of petitioner or of said Grove until the month of May in the present year, when I was informed by a relative who was and is one of the ex officio Guardians of the City of Cork Poor Law Union that said Grove had been writing to the Master and Clerk at the Cork Work-House to try and induce the Guardians to transfer the woman he had suborned, to London to try and me liable for her support (sic) and also asking said Master and Clerk to conceal his name, I was also informed she had left the workhouse and again returned to her former life of prostitution in the city of Cork.

37. That I was urged by any friends and relatives to prosecute said Grove criminally for a conspiracy but consideration for my immediate family withheld my exposure of said Grove’s turpitude so largely blended too with petitioner’s worthlessness.

38. That I have been for a long time convinced, and now fully believe, said Grove had from the first deliberately designed the compromising and degradation of petitioner’s character, and separating and stealing her away from me for his own support by her professional engagements as he was nearly dependant upon his father who is approaching eighty years of age holding the office of Collector of Customs in the City of Gloucester.

39. That in the month of June last past I saw petitioner with another female riding up Regent’s Street in a Hansom Cab, and  I also saw petitioner point me out to her companion, but I made no effort to ascertain her address, but I did endeavour to get up from her through Mr Eyre and Cardinal Wiseman some personal property of mine which I highly value, and I was not then aware of her having presented her petition against me.

40. That I believe she was fulfilling some engagement in London and then and now supporting said Grove, whom I saw on the fifth of July instant in the Haymarket and being persuaded he was going to visit petitioner, I followed him to Manchester Square, where he met a woman, by appearance a prostitute who seemed to be waiting for him, and after nearly an hour’s interview with her he went to number fifty-five Manchester Street, but as he got to the door he caught sight of me and left immediately without knocking.

41. That I was then convinced that petitioner was residing there, and I went towards the door before grove could communicate with her and as I stood by it I distinctly heard her voice as she was practising singing.

42. That the citation served upon me bore date the fifth instant and I believe was directed to be issued by said Grove directly after he had seen me and the Solicitor employed by petitioner is also the Solicitor of said Grove.

43. That I again upon the eighth instant was in the vicinity of her residence, when a person having entered said house and remained some time came from it towards me and served upon me said citation and petition, and I fully believe I was pointed out by petitioner for him.

44. That there is  not any collusion or connivance between me and the said petitioner to annul the marriage.

Sworn in Her Majesty’s

Court for Divorce and Matrimonial

Causes at Westminster Hall

the twenty-ninth day of July 1858

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