Eugene McCarthy – Bigamy conviction. Old Bailey 1862

Eugene Plummer Macarthy’s conviction for bigamy at the Old Bailey is very brief

THIRD COURT.—Friday, August 22nd, 1862.


Before Mr. Common Serjeant.

Reference Number: t18620818-888

888. EUGENE PLUMBER M’CARTHY (44) , Feloniously marrying Mary Ann O’Brien, his wife being then alive; to which he

PLEADED GUILTY .— Confined One Week.

Reference Number: t18620818-889

889. EUGENE PLUMBER M’CARTHY was again indicted for feloniously marrying Emily Verling, his wife being then alive.

No evidence was offered for the prosecution.



There has to be some significance in the sentence only being a week.

This goes with Eugene Macarthy’s trial at the Middlesex Sessions on September 2, 1862 for the theft of books from the British Museum. One of the questions from that was who are  “Miss O’Bryen”, the wronged wife,  “Mr O’Bryen” her brother, and “Dr. O’Bryen, another brother,”. as the principal witnesses; the defence barrister censures  “the conduct of the O’Bryens in imputing matters which had nothing to do with the case.” Are they members of the family, and if they are who exactly are they?

There are alternative spellings of names M’Carthy/Macarthy, O’Brien/O’Bryen/O’Bryan but some solid indications they may be John Roche O’Bryen, his only surviving sister Mary Anne O’Bryen, and one of their brothers. The Times report spells all their surnames O’Bryen in its September report of the theft trial, but as O’Bryan in the bigamy indictment report of July 1862. The Old Bailey transcripts has Mary as “Mary Ann O’Brien”.   and  “Emily Verling,”  the name on the second indictment which is interesting.  Ellen Verling was the O’Bryens’ great aunt [their grandfather John Roche’s sister] and had a daughter who was also called Ellen, as well as at least two sons, James Roche Verling,  a naval surgeon, and Bartholomew Verling. The Times however calls her “Emily Reiley”, and refers to their marriage at St. James’s, Holloway.

The circumstantial evidence is begining to build up, but more comes from Eugene M’Carthy’s indictment for trial at Westminster Police Court, as reported in The Times  in July 1862. But in the meantime, the Cork Examiner is enthusiastic, but fairly sloppy in its reporting, just like it was in Pauline Roche’s case four years earlier. It manages to get Mary Anne’s name wrong, the places both weddings took place wrong, and the bigamous second marriage date ten years later than it happened. As well as moving it from Cork to Dublin.

The Cork Examiner, 17 July 1862


CHARGE OF BIGAMY—A MAN WITH THREE WIVES.—Eugene P. M’Carthy, a solicitor and public notary in Ireland, described as having no fixed residence, was charged with intermarrying with Catherine Craigh, otherwise Cree, his former wife, Mary Jane O’Brien, being still alive.

Mr. Stephen O’Brien, brother of the second wife, residing at Queenstown, produced papers proving the second marriage in July, 1854, at Dublin, and he further stated that the prisoner subsequently married Mary Ann Bunning, at St. James’s Church, Islington. The first marriage took place on the 29th of January, 1839.

Dr. James O’Brien, brother of the prosecutor, corroborated the evidence.

The prisoner was remanded for the attendance of the witnesses to attest the respective marriages.

Someone nicked Joe Lescher’s coats (and a couple of lemons) in 1822

Old bailey
Courtroom No.1, Old Bailey

 ALEXANDER RANN was indicted for stealing on the 27th of March 1822 , two coats, value 30 s. , the goods of Joseph Samuel Lescher .

JOHN LIMBRICK .” I am an officer. On the 27th of March, I was at my door in Church Row, St. Pancras, talking to Croker. The prisoner went by with a basket, with a handkerchief over it; he looked hard at me. I told Croker to follow him. He turned round and saw me coming, and threw down the basket, pushed Croker aside, and ran off. I pursued him and took him at last.”

St Pancras c.1860
St Pancras c.1860

Church Row, St Pancras was demolished to make way for the Midland Railway Station, now St Pancras International.  Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft lived for a while in  Church Row. Eight years earlier than the case here, in 1814, he declared his love for Mary Wollstonecraft over the grave of her mother Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who had died in childbirth. Mary Goodwin wrote “Vindication of the Rights of Women” in 1792, and her daughter wrote “Frankenstein'”. The churchyard was also the site of the burial of the famous clown Joseph Grimaldi, in 1801.

Back to the case:

HENRY CROKER . “I was with Limbrick, and saw the prisoner pass with a basket. I went after him, and asked if he had any fowls;” he said “No.” I said some had been stolen. He said, “I have got my master’s clothes.” I said “Who is your master – where does he live.” He said at Pentonville, and immediately threw the basket at my feet. I picked it up; Limbrick pursued and took him. It contained two coats, and two lemons.”

MR. JOSEPH LESCHER (Bef. 1768 – 1827) “I live at West End, Hampstead . The coats are both my son’s, whose name is Joseph Samuel Lescher (1796 – 1871), and were in the hall about nine o’clock, when I went out in the morning. I returned at five, but did not miss them till next morning, and on Tuesday the officer brought them.”

JOHN CORBETT . “I live at West End. On the 27th of March I saw the prisoner with another about three o’clock, about one hundred yards from the prosecutor’s house, with the basket. I noticed them particularly, and saw a brown great coat outside the basket. The other carried the basket.”

GUILTY . Aged 20. Transported for Seven Years .

This was the same sentence that Robert Miles got two years earlier for a rather greater value of items.

First Middlesex Jury, before W. Arabin, Esq.  Old Bailey Proceedings, 17th April 1822. Reference Number: t18220417-116