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2. On or about the 25th of December, 1876, the defendant promise to asked the plaintiff to become his wife, and upon her consent, marry.
the plaintiff and the defendant agreed to marry each other, and the plaintiff has always been ready and willing to marry the defendant.
3. The defendant has, however, refused to perform his said agreement, and has married another person.
4. Alternatively, the plaintiff says that she and the defendant agreed to marry one another within a reasonable time, and a reasonable time in that behalf had before this action elapsed, and the plaintiff had been always willing to marry the defendant, yet the defendant has refused to marry the plaintiff.
The plaintiff claims £500 damages.
Statement of Defence. 1. The defendant does not admit that he asked the plaintiff to become his wife, or that she consented thereto, or that the
Among the defences that may be set up are : 1. That the defendant never promised to marry the plaintiff ; 2. That he promised conditionally, and the condition has not yet been fulfilled ; 3. That since the
promise the defendant has discovered that the plaintiff has been guilty of Immorality gross immorality or depraved conduct, of which he or she was ignorant of plaintiff, at the time of the engagement (Irving v. Greenwood, 1 C. & P. 350); when a
4. That the plaintiff has been guilty of material misrepresentation as to defence. the real circumstances of his or her family, and his or her previous life
(Wharton v. Lewis, 1 C. & P. 529); 5. That the plaintiff has exonerated When an
the defendant from his or her promise. Such an exoneration may be exoneration implied from the demeanour and conduct of the parties. The total cessaby the
tion of intercourse and correspondence for two or three years is evidence plaintiff for the jury on a plea of exoneration, although on the last occasion they will be were seen together the plaintiff refused to give up the defendant's implied. letters, saying it would be like giving him up altogether. (Daris v.
Bomford, 6 H. & N. 245.) 6. The Statute of Limitations, which, in the
case of this action, is a bar after the lapse of six years from the promise. What will It has been decided, however, that bodily infirmity supervening after not consti- the promise and rendering it dangerous to the defendant's life to marry, tute a
is no answer to an action for breach of promise to marry (Hall v. Wright, defence to E. B. & E. 746, 765) ; so on the authority of the last case, insanity in the this action. plaintiff existing unknown to the defendant previously to his promise,
was held to be no defence (Baker v. Cartwright, 10 C. B. N. S. 124); so a pre-contract on the part of the plaintiff to marry another person, which the plaintiff concealed from the defendant at the time of his promise, is no defence to the action without fraud (Beechey v. Bronn, E. B. & E. 796); so it is no defence that the defendant is a married man, and was married when he promised, provided the plaintiff was ignorant of the fact. (Millnard v. Littlewood, 5 Exch. 775.)
plaintiff and defendant agreed to marry each other as respectively and alternatively alleged in the 2nd and 4th paragraphs of the plaintiff's statement of claim, or that they ever agreed to marry each other.
2. The defendant further says, that even if he did agree to marry the plaintiff as alleged, such agreement was by mutual consent of the plaintiff and defendant, and before any breach thereof, rescinded.
Breach of Promise to Marry, and Breach of Special
Agreement (a). 1. Previously to the date of the agreement next herein- Statement after mentioned, the plaintiff and defendant had agreed to
Breach of marry one another, and by an agreement bearing date the promise to 17th of December, 1872, and to which the plaintiff craves marry. leave to refer as part of this statement, the defendant agreed with the plaintiff to become his lawful wife on or before the 1st of January, 1875, or in default thereof and by way of compensation to the plaintiff, and in consideration of his agreeing to wait until the death of her parents to make the defendant his lawful wife, to pay to the plaintiff the one-third of any properties or moneys which she (the defendant) might receive under the will of her parents, jointly or separately.
2. By the said agreement, and for the considerations aforesaid, the defendant further agreed to pay to the plaintiff an annuity of £20 per annum, commencing from the year 1875, the said annuity to be doubled each year until the defendant should become the lawful wife of the plaintiff.
3. Before the commencement of this action, the defendant received, under the will of her parents, jointly and separately, certain properties and moneys.
4. The plaintiff has always been ready and willing to marry the defendant, yet the defendant has neglected and refused to marry the plaintiff, or to pay him the said one-third as agreed, and the annuity for the year 1876, or either of them.
(a) The statement of claim and statement of defence here set out are taken from the pleadings in Heap v. Marris, 46 L. J. 76. The statement of defence is scarcely a model so far as brevity of statement is concerned ; but the Court refused to strike it out as embarrassing, and it is thought it may usefully be given as showing the greater latitude of statement allowed when a merely equitable defence is pleaded.
The plaintiff claims :-
such properties and moneys and of the said annuity ;
Statement of Defence (a). Statement 1. The defendant admits that in the year 1872, she signed a of defence. memorandum of agreement between herself and the plaintiff. Undue influence. The defendant says she never made any agreement with the
plaintiff relating to the claim of the plaintiff set out in his statement of claim other than by the said memorandum of
2. The defendant does not admit that the terms of the said memorandum of agreement are set out in the 1st and 2nd paragraphs of the statement of claim, or either of them.
3. As to the claim of the plaintiff to one third portion of whatever properties or moneys she might receive or has received under the will of her parents, jointly or separately, and to the annuity as set forth in his statement of claim, the defendant says that if the said memorandum of agreement is such as is set out in the 1st or 2nd paragraphs, or either of them, in the statement of claim, the said memorandum of agreement was signed or entered into by her under the circumstances hereinafter set forth in the next nine successive paragraphs.
4. The defendant is the only child of the late Mr. gentleman of wealth and position, and has always during the lifetime of her parents, resided with them in L-shire. Her mother died in the month of October, 1873, and her father in the month of July, 1875. The defendant was, as the plaintiff ever since the year 1859 well knew, wholly dependent upon her father in his lifetime for her maintenance, and after his death for such provision as he might make for her by will or otherwise.
5. In the year 1855, the plaintiff, who then resided at L., and whose position in life was much inferior to the defendant's, and who knew that the defendant's father was a gentleman of
(a) See note, p. 209, as to this form.
wealth and position, without the knowledge of the defendant's parents, paid his addresses to the defendant.
6. In or about the year 1861, the defendant's parents for Statement the first time became aware that the plaintiff was intimate of defence. with and paying his addresses to the defendant, and they there- influence. upon forbade the defendant from further continuing any acquaintance with the plaintiff, or receiving his addresses, or having any intercourse or correspondence with him, and this was then communicated to the plaintiff.
7. Thereupon the plaintiff, by the influence he had over the defendant, induced the defendant to enter into a clandestine correspondence with him, to be kept up without the knowledge of the defendant's parents, and to enter into an engagement of marriage with him, which it was intended by both the plaintiff and the defendant should be concealed from the defendant's parents, and shortly after the plaintiff left L., and from thenceforward resided in London.
8. In consequence of such promise, from the year 1861 down to the 19th of July, 1875, when the defendant's father died, the plaintiff continuously and frequently wrote to and received letters from the defendant, and from time to time had interviews with her at various places other than L., and the engagement of marriage was continued between them. During the whole of this time the receipt and sending of such letters and the said interviews and the said engagement were, as the plaintiff well knew, concealed from the defendant's father and from the defendant's mother so long as she was alive ; and the defendant's parents were, and each of them was, ignorant and unaware of such correspondence, interviews, and engagement.
9. For many years prior to the day when the defendant signed such memorandum of agreement as aforesaid, the plaintiff applied to the defendant from time to time, and received from her sums of money, and from the commencement of the year 1869 to the day that the defendant signed the said memorandum of agreement as aforesaid, the plaintiff, who had, as he well knew, great influence over the defendant, by using all such influence, constantly endeavoured to induce the defendant to execute a bond or contract to secure him an annuity or large sum of money out of the property or moneys she might receive under her parents' and especially under her father's will.
Statement 10. The plaintiff knew that the defendant was very much of defence. afraid of her parents learning that, contrary to their wishes Undue influence. and orders, she had kept up correspondence with the plaintiff,
and had entered into and continued an engagement to marry the plaintiff, and had had interviews with him from time to time, and for the purpose of inducing the defendant to execute such a bond or contract, he announced to the defendant that he intended to take up his residence at L., and to inform her parents of such interviews, correspondence, and engagement.
11. At and up to the signing by the defendant of the memorandum of agreement mentioned in the 1st paragraph of this statement, the defendant had for the whole of her life resided with and been under the care and direction of her parents, and was wholly without experience in business, and was, with reference to her engagement with the plaintiff and the matter comprised in such memorandum of agreement, wholly induced by the plaintiff to sign and enter into the said memorandum of agreement by and under the influence of the plaintiff, while she was engaged to be married to him under the circumstances before set forth, and by and under the fear, as the plaintiff well knew, that the plaintiff would, if she refused to sign and enter into the said memorandum of agreement, take up his residence at L., and inform her parents of such interviews, correspondence, and engagement, and thereupon she did sign the said memorandum of agreement in the 1st paragraph of this statement mentioned, by the means aforesaid, and under the circumstances aforesaid, and not otherwise. And the defendant further says, that if the terms of the said memorandum of agreement are such as are set forth in the statement of claim, the same are, and always were, as to the promise of the defendant to pay the said moneys, properties, and annuity, exorbitant, unreasonable, inequitable, and unfair to the defendant.
12. The defendant admits that under the will of her father, but denies that under the will of her mother, she became entitled to certain properties and moneys, and says that before, after, and at the execution of the last will and testament of the defendant's father, under which said will the defendant has received such property and money, and to the date of the death of the defendant's father, the father of the defendant