The case of NUTTALL v. WILDES was tried at the Liverpool Assizes. The
plaintiff was the daughter of the late MR. NUTTALL, a merchant and
shipowner, who resided at The Laurels, Claughton, near Birkenhead, and who
died in January, leaving a widow, three sons, and two daughters, one of whom
was the plaintiff.
The defendant, CAPTAIN GEORGE BENNY WILDES, was a gentleman of considerable
means and respectability, living in Lowndes-square. The parties, it
appeared, were introduced to each other by LIEUTENANT HORNBY, at Buxton,
Derbyshire shortly after MR. NUTTALL's death. CAPTAIN WILDES paid plaintiff
great attention, and ultimately made her an offer of marriage, which was
sanctioned by her mother and by his parents, and everything appeared to
promise a happy and auspicious future. Before his introduction to the
plaintiff, MR. WILDES had been married; but his wife, a lady of some family
and connections, had left him, and the result was a suit, by which CAPTAIN
WILDES had obtained a divorce. This was known, it was said, to the friends
on both sides, and to MRS. NUTTALL; but the gallant captain nevertheless
succeeded in warmly attaching MISS NUTTALL to him. On the 15th of August,
MISS NUTTALL wrote to her lover as follows:
"Car Gwyn, St. Asaph, August 15.
"My darling George, - I have just sent Roberts to St. Asaph with the
telegram. Am now about to devote ten minutes solely and entirely to your
own big self, for I feel confident you have not been able to make out two
words consecutively in that alarming specimen of my penmanship I favoured
you with yesterday afternoon. And so you really think your mother will like
me ? Do you know Alice ? I feel half afraid to see her, for fear the
original should not impress her so favourably as the photo has done; but
you will be with me, will you not ? and with you at my side I do not think
I shall very much fear. By the way, I must not omit to thank you for the
Eau de Cologne. How good you are to me, and how am I to repay you for all
your kindnesses. I can only do so in one way - by filling your life with
sunshine, and with God's help, I will do all in my power to make you forget
the bitter past, or at least look upon it without pain. I should like
photos of the children. If you have any to spare, will you bring them with
you to-morrow ? We have not seen anything of Mrs. Williams since you left,
Cargwyn not being sufficiently attractive when ladies are its sole
occupants. Mamma sends her kindest regards to Capt. Jones, to which kindest
regards tell him I send my spinster's mite, and with dearest love to
yourself, your own...ANNIE NUTTAL"
This was followed by a letter from the defendant's mother: -
"Dearest Annie, - Your long letter is irresistible and I sincerely hope
nothing will prevent my coming to your marriage on the 11th of next month.
Indeed, dear Annie, from my own observation, I feel convinced that you will
make dear George a loving wife, and make up to him by a future of domestic
happiness for his past life of failure and disappointment. I already love
you for your winning manner towards myself, and feel that I shall have an
affectionate daughter hereafter, and sincerely trust that no cloud will ever
come between us. I am, as you know, devotedly attached to George, and his
happiness is mine. I shall look forward to our meeting with much pleasure,
and now, dear, please tell me if you will like a travelling-bag or a
despatch-box best, or if you have them already. - With love, believe me
yours affectionately, "AGNES WILDES."
The correspondence continued, and the wedding-day was fixed for the 11th
October, but on the 3rd CAPTAIN WILDES wrote a letter, which MR. POPE (the
learned counsel for the plaintiff stigmatised as as cruel an injury as ever
was inflicted on a young girl whose affections had been gained.
"2, Cromwell-place, South Kensington, October 3, 1873.
"My dear Annie, - I fear the contents of this letter will cause you great
pain and sorrow, but nevertheless, I must write it. I was greatly annoyed
at hearing from my solicitors that your mother had proposed to delay the
wedding,, because of the settlements, although no alterations had taken
place on my side in them. I came up to town to see about this, and fully
prepared to return to you and make you a kind and good husband. You may
remember asking me if I still loved my wife as Mrs. Williams told you she
thought I did. I said no, I thought not; and told you I loved you with
perhaps not so strong, but a quieter love, and this I believe.
I have never seen my wife for two years and a half, and thought all love for
her was now gone from me, but it is not so. I have seen her again. She has
been living very quietly and properly with her mother and brother for a long
time, and people have lied to me and misstated facts. I love her as much as
ever, and can only thank God that this meeting did not take place after our
wedding instead of before, so as to spare us much future misery.
Had I not come to London I could not have seen her, and we should have been
married, and I should have met her afterwards, and what would have been the
result ? Endless misery for you, her, and myself. You will see now that
marriage between us is impossible, and that our engagement must end. Poor
Annie ! how sorry I am for you; but I shall never marry now unless I take
back my wife, and can only pray God to soften the blow for you, and let us
feel that it has been sent with a good end in coming upon us now instead of
I go abroad hoping to remain, dear Annie, still always your affectionate
' GEO. H. WILDES."
On the very day fixed for the marriage, MISS NUTTALL, to her intense grief,
saw an announcement in the papers of CAPT. WILDES re-marriage with his first
wife. The unhappy lady was thus left in a position which highly entitled
her (said MR. POPE) to the amplest and most sympathetic consideration.
MISS NUTTALL said that CAPTAIN WILDES often spoke to her of his family, but
never of his wife. He referred to settlements, and said his mother had
settled £500 a year on him and his children, and that his wife's mother had
also appropriated £500 to the same object, and she understood he had £1499
besides. He told her there were two children - one five years, and the
other three or four - who were living with his mother. He further promised
to make a very good settlement on her (plaintiff); he was to insure his
life for £5000, and settle it upon her. She herself had some money under
her father's will.
The jury, after a short deliberation, returned a verdict for the plaintiff,