West Briton, 1 April 1836


This was a case of seduction.   Mr. Erle and Mr. Butt conducted the case for
the plaintiff, and Mr. Crowder (with whom was Mr. Montague Smith) appeared
for the defendant.

The plaintiff is a farmer living in the parish of Calstock, and the father of six children.  The action was brought by him for compensation for the injury he sustained by the loss of his eldest daughter, about 20 years of age, who it was alleged had been seduced by the defendant under the following circumstances.  The plaintiff's daughter and the defendant are first cousins.  At the time the injury complained of occurred, the defendant was residing with his father, who farmed on an estate about a mile from that occupied by the plaintiff.  The families were very intimate.  About the year 1829, Ann Hocking, at the request of the defendant's father, was taken into his house as a servant.  The arrangement as to bed-rooms was rather a peculiar one.  The house of the defendant's father was small; it contained only two bed-rooms, one of which was of considerable size, the other very small.  In the former there were three beds; one occupied by the defendant and his brother, another by a servant man and boy, and the third by Ann Hocking (who was then 21 years of age), the sister of the defendant who was very young, and an apprentice girl.  Ann Hocking lived in the family for about three years, to the time of the death of the defendant's father.  She then went to live with a person called Ashton.  Soon after the death of his father, defendant and his brother took the farm together, and their mother resided with them, when Ann Hocking returned, and remained with the family until lady-day 1834.   Before she left defendant had become her suitor; and he subsequently met her at Bodmin fair, and renewed his suit; she believed he was sincere, and from that time till November 1834 kept company with him, when he succeeded in effecting his purpose, and from that moment turned his back upon her, and refused to afford her relief in any shape.  In August, 1835, she was delivered of a child, which her father had been obliged to support.  Under these circumstances the plaintiff considered that he had no other course than to lay the facts before a jury, and seek compensation at their hands.  It was proved that the defendant had some time ago received 400.  For the defence it was contended that there was not a tittle of evidence to shew any seductive act; that the case was presented to the Jury precisely in the same manner as if the plaintiff's daughter had sworn defendant father at the Quarter Sessions, and that when parish officers could not succeed in getting a person fixed for the maintenance of a bastard child, they might, if the plaintiff obtained a verdict in this cause, come into a Court of law, and try to make out a case of seduction; and it appeared that in this case the plaintiff's daughter had first attempted to swear defendant father, but she could not be borne out in any material part of her evidence by another witness according to the provisions of the late Act.  It was also admitted by the young woman, on cross- examination, that the men who slept in the room with her, had frequently taken great liberties with her person, and still she continued to sleep in the same room, and made no complaint for a long time.  She stated that she had had connections with the defendant several times, but could not tell when or where.  In answer to these imputations on her character, a paper was put in written by the request of the defendant, giving her a good character as a servant.   The Jury, without hesitation, found a verdict for the plaintiff - damages 40, which excited great surprise.

Contributed by Julia Mosman