A ‘Seduction’ and its Consequences, 1830

A tragic story from the Pilot, 12 April 1830:

“On Friday a child only about fourteen years old, and small for her age, appeared before the magistrates at College Street Police-office, to charge an unfortunate associate in crime with having taken two shillings from her the previous night. When questioned about her connection with the prisoner, she detailed the following circumstances: – Her father had been a painter, and was dead two years; her mother and a younger sister were living, and were supported by her prostitution! She had been employed selling fruit in the Four Courts, and was seduced some time ago by a young lawyer, and since then had pursued the unhappy course thus opened for her. She denied that her mother or any female acquaintance had instigated her to these habits, but that she pursued them of her own accord, and divided the profits of her melancholy pursuit with her parent and her associates! We forbear to give the name of her seducer, who is a young gentleman of respectable family and character, but we deplore that any man of his rank and society should be so connected with such depravity.”

For those wondering why this did not result in a criminal prosecution, the age of consent at the time for females was 12 years, raised to 13 in 1875 and 16 in 1885. There also existed a civil action for seduction; however it had to be brought by the girl’s father, or her employer, and unfortunately, neither were in existence here.

Nonetheless, certainly behaviour calling for disbarment!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

Irish barrister sharing the history of the Four Courts, Dublin, Ireland, and other Irish courts.

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