Lord Woolman joins a situation that deserves to be much better understood. Vote for the best three Session Cases here.
It entails gallantry, dissipation, a contested union, involved estates, along with a protracted lawsuit.
Important Steuart has been the oldest son of an early family. But after leaving the military he dropped into a life of dissolution. His alcoholism led in attacks of delirium tremens and finally causing his death in 1868 aged 37.
She claimed that she had been the Major’s widow, with married him two years before, when she was 16.
Leading S’d boarded with her family at a flat above her dad’s fishing tackle store on top of Leith Walk in Edinburgh. After dinner one day Mary’s dad told Important S he could no more remain under their roofbecause his existence in the apartment was tarnishing Mary’s reputation.
Major S sat silent for a moment or two tears came to his eyes. He said:”I’m bad now and can’t marry, but I’ll marry her at the Scotch fashion.” He went down to his knee, place a ring on the third finger of Mary’s left hand and said”you’re my spouse prior to Heaven, so I want to God”. Those present then watched the few embrace, kiss and then go to bed together.
Observing that night that the parties’ behavior followed an unclear pattern. On occasion the Major acknowledged he was married to Mary. Sometimes he didn’t. She similarly asserted to be his wife, but also held out herself as solitary. It wasn’t contested that she had his kid about 14 weeks later.
Lord Justice Clerk Moncreiffe stated”I’m unable to withstand the big and consistent mass of proof where the pursuer’s case depends”.
The addresses include great rolling passages of morality. Here, by way of instance, is Lord O’Hagan:”It does look somewhat startling to provide this kind of impact to these suspicious words, spoken, if at all, in a nocturnal carouse with a habitual drunkard, then emerging from a state of intoxication, feeble in body and mind, and yelling maudlin tears”
Steuart is not the most influential choice in Session Cases. It is seldom cited now. However, it reminds us that lawsuit is all about individuals and their own human issues. It may and should have provided the engine for a fantastic Victorian novel.