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

Berry v. Osborne [1892] NSWSupC 1

breach of promise of marriage, seduction

Supreme Court of New South Wales

Darley C.J., 2 December 1892

Source: Sydney Morning Herald, 3 December 1892, p. 7

No. 1 Jury Court. - (Before the Chief Justice and a jury of four.)


Mr. Ralston, instructed by Mr. C. Bull, appeared for the plaintiff; and Mr. Scholes, instructed by Mr. C.L. Tange, for the defendant. This was an action brought by Susannah Berry against Oliver Osborne to recover damages for breach of promise of marriage. According to the plaintiff's story, it appeared that in 1884 she resided at Ryde with her brothers, and held the position of postmistress at Hornsby. Defendant was the owner of an orchard in the same district, and through her brothers she became acquainted with him. He paid her great attention, and in August, 1885, the defendant made a proposal of marriage to Miss Berry, which was accepted, and from that time forward he was in the habit of taking her out to cricket matches and other amusements; he also took her to see a house which he was building, and informed her that as soon as it was finished they were to be married. Subsequently the defendants had used the plaintiff, the result being that the child was born. Sometime prior to this event, however, her sister and brothers, becoming aware of her condition, had an interview with the defendant, who repeated his promise of marriage, and fixed the date of the celebration for March, 1886. The acting upon this assurance, the plaintiff prepared her trousseau and whatever she required for housekeeping. The defendant, however, put off the wedding from time to time, and in September, 1886, the child was born. The plaintiff then sued defendant for maintenance at the Ryde Police Court and obtained an order. Subsequently defendant married another lady. In May of the same year plaintiff had commenced an action for breach of promise of marriage, but having no means she was obliged to abandon the action and wait until she could afford to revive it. Damages were laid at £500. Defendant simply denied the promise.

When the case was called this morning counsel announced that a settlement had been arrived at, and all imputations against plaintiff's character were withdrawn.

His Honor said that the course adopted was a very proper one under the circumstances.

Published by the Division of Law, Macquarie University