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Source: Bell's Weekly Messenger, No.1770, Sunday, February 28, 1830


Court of King's Bench.
Crim. Con.

Horder v. Norcutt.

This was an action of crim. con. against Mr. Thos. Gascoigne Norcutt, an attorney.

The facts given in evidence were these: —The plaintiff, Mr. Horder, who was a teacher of music and dancing, was married to his present wife in June, 1818. They had no children, but lived happily together, and occupied a house in Amwell-terrace, Pentonville. The defendant (Mr. Norcutt), an attorney, lived within a door or two of the plaintiff's house. He first became acquainted with the plaintiff and his wife about two years ago, by meeting them at St. Mark's Church, then lately opened in the neighbourhood. They had sittings next to each other in that church, and frequently went there together and accompanied each other home, and from that time an intimacy was kept up between them. The defendant, in an evening, used to go to the plaintiff's house and engage in conversation on religious subjects, read religious books, which he took with him, and sing pieces of sacred music of the plaintiff's composition. At the defendant's suggestion, the plaintiff set to music some pieces selected from Dr. Watt's Psalms and Hymns, and the defendant wrote a preface to the work, which was entitled "The Family Harmonist," and dedicated to Christian parents, under the patronage of the Rev. Dr. Collyer. In return for the confidence reposed in him, he told the plaintiff that he had formed an attachment for a young lady whom he said he was going to marry, and showed the plaintiff and his wife a brooch with the lady's hair, and also his own brooch and miniature which he intended to present to her. In June last, the plaintiff was absent in Hertfordshire for about six days. During that time the defendant came to his house, took up his abode there, and slept with Mrs. Horder, the female servant being bribed to secrecy. At the beginning of August, Mrs. Horder proposed to her husband that, for the benefit of her health, she should be allowed to accompany a gentlewoman, who was a lodger in the house, to West Ham, near Hailsham, in Sussex, for two or three weeks. The plaintiff gave his consent, and the day was fixed for their journey. At that time the defendant gave the plaintiff to understand that he was about to go into Lincolnshire on a visit to a clergyman. Mrs. Horder and her female friend were to leave town on a Tuesday. On the Thursday preceding the defendant paid his usual visit at the plaintiff's house, and was then understood to take his leave of the family, and at parting, after talking with the plaintiff at the street-door for several minutes, shook hands most cordially with him. On the Sunday following the plaintiff went to church, leaving Mrs. Horder at home; in his absence the defendant called and stayed with the lady till church was nearly over, taking his departure before the plaintiff's return. On the Tuesday following, Mrs. Horder left town accompanied by her female friend. During their absence the plaintiff had some friends to dine with him, and was in want of some silver spoons and other articles, which he supposed his wife had locked up in a chest. The key could not he found, and on the plaintiff's breaking open the chest, he discovered that all his plate, together with table-linen, sheets, &c. had been taken away by his wife. This led to inquiries, the result of which was, that on the return of Mrs. Horder on the evening of the 4th September, the plaintiff refused to admit her again into his house. It was afterwards discovered that the defendant had been the companion of Mrs. Horder in her journey, and that they had been to Hastings, where they took up a lodging together as man and wife. The plaintiff having refused to permit Mrs. Horder to return to his roof, the defendant caused him to be arrested for a sum of about 20l. which he had lent him some time before, Subsequently attempts were made to bribe the female servant, and induce her to leave the plaintiff's house. On one occasion, the defendant, accompanied by Mrs. Horder, called on the girl's mother, and told her that "if her daughter Louisa would be on their side, 100l. should not stand in their way, and she should never want a friend." This offer was rejected, and the girl appeared today as a witness for the plaintiff.

The case being fully proved,

Mr. Brougham admitted that a verdict must pass against the defendant, and he therefore, in addressing the Jury, confined himself to such topics as the case enabled him to urge in mitigation of damages.

Lord Tenterden, without making any comment on the facts proved, left it to the Jury to give the plaintiff such damages as they should think the case warranted.

The Jury, after conferring together for about ten minutes, found for the plaintiff —Damages, 500l.

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