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Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales, 1788-1899

Grose v. Curtis [1839] NSWSupC 50

criminal conversation - adultery

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Dowling C.J., 10 July 1839

Source: Sydney Herald, 12 July 1839

Wednesday. -- Before the Chief Justice and a Special Jury.

Grose v. Curtis. -- This was an action to recover compensation from the defendant for having had criminal conversation with the plaintiff's wife.  The defendant had entered a plea of not guilty, but no one appeared.

The case was very clearly proved.  It appeared that in 1829, the plaintiff, then nearly fifty years of age, was married to his present wife, Irene Deaton, then about eighteen.  Mr. Grose was described as being very kind to and fond of his wife, allowing her a carriage, &c., but from the ill temper of Mrs. Grose, they lived very uncomfortably together.  About three years since, Mr. Grose made a settlement upon his wife, and allowed her to go to England.  After remaining there, a short time, Mrs. Grose took her passage on board of the ship Duchess of Kent, on board of which the defendant was also a passenger.  Early in the voyage the defendant paid great attention to Mrs. Grose, and several circumstances were detailed by the Captain which put the guilt of the parties beyond a doubt.  Upon the arrival of the ship in this Colony, the parties went to the Pulteny Hotel, where they represented themselves as man and wife, and slept together for one night.

His Honor said that, in awarding the damages, it was material for the Jury to take into their consideration the state of domestic agreement existing between the parties, in fact, to ascertain whether, as alleged in the declaration, she was a source of comfort to her husband.  The plaintiff and his wife, it appeared, did not live happily together, and in fact, he allowed her to go to England, and deprive herself of his protection and society, and he must expect the consequences.  This was not the case where a man lives happily with his wife, and a person wantonly seduces her.  The Jury found a verdict for the plaintiff -- damages £50.

Counsel for the plaintiff, Messrs. Stephen and a'Beckett.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University