From the Dublin Evening Post, 22 June 1824, a story of young love’s struggle against parental opposition:
“Mr Sheil… moved for a Habeas Corpus against William Ormsby, the Marshal of the Four Courts Marshalsea, commanding him to bring up the body of his daughter, Jane Ormsby.
Mr Sheil said, that he moved upon the affidavit of Nicholas William Whyte, which stated, that he became acquainted with Miss Ormsby, about fourteen months ago, at Booterstown, and was introduced to her father and mother, who received his visits. Miss Ormsby formed an attachment for Mr Whyte, and entered into a contract of marriage.
Her father disapproved of Mr Whyte’s proposals and… adopted a system of rigour in her regard, which had the most pernicious effect upon her health. She was confined by him in the Marshalsea, or the house adjoining to it; and such as the impression produced by her father’s menaces, that for several days she became deranged…
[S]he had applied for a Habeas Corpus in order to effect her liberation. She was upwards of twenty-one years of age, and, therefore, her own mistress.
Judge: Is there a positive affidavit that the motion be made at her instance?
Mr Shiel: There is, my Lord.
Judge: Then let the Habeas Corpus issue, returnable forthwith.”
A joyful ending? Sadly not! When the victorious Mr Whyte subsequently turned up at the Marshalsea with the order directing that Jane Ormsby be released from her imprisonment, he found that she had already been spirited off to England with a view to marriage to another suitor.
Further research also suggests a reason why Jane’s family might have been so particular about her spouse – her father was in serious financial trouble following the recent escape of a prisoner from the Marshalsea. As Marshal, he bore a liability to compensate the creditor for the prisoner’s debt.
A case of the Marshal of the Four Courts Marshalsea successfully auctioning his daughter off to the highest bidder?