Pauline Roche Case – The Daily News June 1855


A singular minor case, involving charges of cruelty against a guardian, was adjudicated on by the Master of the Rolls, on Saturday. The question was, whether the guardian of the minor should pay the costs of the proceedings that had been resorted to to remove the minor from his care.

Paulina Roche, the minor in the case, is the daughter of the sister of Dr. John Roche O’Bryan (sic) and Mr Robert. H. O’Bryan (sic) of Queenstown, Cork. She (Mrs Roche) died in 1836, at which period the minor was only eleven months old. She was left by her mother to the care of Dr O’Bryan (sic), of Clifton, Bristol, and a maintenance was allowed him for her support, which was increased from time to time, till it amounted to £ 139 per annum. She was entitled to a fortune of   £10,000, the greater portion of which (£7,000 or £6,000) had been realised. Miss Roche was a young lady whose constitution was delicate, and therefore, it was contended she required great care and attention, instead of which she was provided with bad food, bad clothes, and was deprived of such necessaries as sugar and butter; she was likewise deprived of horse exercise, which was indispensable to her health. A pony, the bequest of a dying patient, was given to her; and when she was deprived of this a carriage horse was procured, which kicked her off his back, and she refused ever again to mount him. She also complained that upon two occasions he (guardian) beat her severely – that he made her a housekeeper and governess to the younger children, that he led her to believe she was dependent upon his benevolence; and further, that she was not permitted to dine with him and his wife, but sent down to the kitchen with the children and the servants. Having endured this treatment for a long period, she fled from his house in the manner hereafter described. To these charges, Dr O’Bryan (sic) replied that he had treated his niece with kindness – that her preservation from consumption was solely ascribable to his judicious and skilful treatment – that her caused her to be well educated – had given her many accomplishments, and a horse to ride, which was not a carriage horse, but an excellent lady’s horse – that she upon two occasions told him untruths which required correction, and that he would have punished his own children much more severely. He also relied upon the affidavits of friends (Mrs and Miss Morgan, Mrs Parsons, and the affidavit of his own wife) which represented that his conduct to the young lady was uniformly kind, and that from their knowledge of him and the course pursued towards her, they could vouch that no hardship or cruelty had been practised towards her. It was likewise contended that she would have better consulted her own respectability and displayed better taste if she had abstained from taking proceedings against her uncle and guardian, with whom she had been for so many years.

The Master commented severely on the conduct of the guardian, and said he was clearly of opinion at present that he should bear all his own costs; but whether he would make him pay the cost the minor’s estate had been put to in investigating these transactions, he would reserve for future consideration.

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