Mr Godley BL and the Bounced Cheque, October 1903

From the Northern Whig, Saturday 31 October 1903:

“Yesterday in the Southern Police Court, before Mr Swifte, Mr John Godley, Barrister-at-Law, and Miss (or Mrs) Lilian Moore, otherwise Pritchard, otherwise Mrs L Moore, carrying on business at 6 Westland Row, appeared on remand to answer a summons to show cause why informations should not be taken against them for having ‘on or about the 12th August last, at Westland Row, unlawfully conspired and agreed together, by false and fraudulent pretences, and with intent to defraud, to obtain from the branch office of the Munster and Leinster Bank Limited, at Lower Sackville Street, or other persons unknown, the sum of three pounds, such false pretences consisting in the drawing and issuing of a cheque upon your account in the Baggot Street branch of the said bank, you then well knowing you had not funds to credit to meet the same, and which cheque you, notwithstanding, caused to be presented at the said Sackville Street branch, and obtained cash therefor.

Mr Tobias, solicitor, prosecuting, said there were two further charges against the parties.  One related to a £3 cheque, and the other was a somewhat similar charge, that of obtaining from Alderman Farrell a sum of £10 on one of those bogus cheques.  He intended giving further evidence with a view of showing the intimate association of the two defendants in business and otherwise.

Mr Stephen M McKenzie, Great Brunswick Street, was next examined and said he was going home one Saturday afternoon when he met Godley at Westland Row.  Godley was riding a bicycle, and told him he was a little bit short on wages, and asked him if he would oblige him by cashing a cheque.  He then gave Godley £3.

Mr Tobias:  Did you ever get a communication from Mr Godley in reference to this cheque?

Mr McKenzie: I did.

Mr Tobias: Did he write referring to the thing as a loan?

Mr McKenzie: He had the impertinence to do so, but I brought in the police.

Mr Tobias: Did you present the next day? 

Mr McKenzie: Certainly not.  He met me on Monday, and asked me for God’s sake not to send it, as he hadn’t money in the bank to meet it.

Mr Tobias: How long do you know Mr Godley?

Mr McKenzie:  I don’t know him at all except to meet him at bars; I met him in the Grosvenor.

Mr Swifte – I think it is a case in which it is difficult to restrain one’s indignation.  I will raise the bail in two sureties of £25 each, or one in £50.

Mr Godley – We are not going to run away, your Worship.

Mr Swifte – I don’t know what you are going to do, Mr Godley, I am sure.”

The case was adjourned to Friday week.  Was there worse to come? Was there what? Read on!

The scene of the crime, Westland Row, today. The Grosvenor Hotel, No. 5, was at the far end, on the left side with No. 6, where Leigh, Moore & Co carried on business, next door. Both houses are now demolished.

From the Irish News and Belfast Morning News, 14 November 1903:

“Today, in the Northern Police Court, before Mr Swifte, John Godley BL was charged with having intermarried at Southsea on the 16th October 1900 with Lilian Pritchard, his real wife, Cecilia Hitchcock whom he had married on the 3rd of June 1884, being at the time alive.

Mr Tobias, prosecuting, said the matter had been brought forward upon a report received from the police authorities at Portsmouth.  It was a painful case.

Mr John Alexander Hitchcock, Font Hill, Chapelizod, stated that he was present at the marriage of his sister, Cecilia Julia Hitchcock, with the prisoner, John Godley.  The marriage took place at St Peter’s Church, Aungier Street on the 3rd June 1884.

Mr Roberts, defending – Do you know there were strained relations between these parties?

Mr Tobias – No strained relations justify the offence.

Mr Godley – Mrs Pritchard is anxious to say that this marriage took place with knowledge of the facts, and that she was in no way deceived by Mr Godley.

Mr Tobias – that is a very serious admission for the lady to make.

Mr Roberts – I make it at her express request.

Mr Swifte said he would allow the second defendant out on the previous bail, but Mr Godley would be remanded in custody.”

Regular readers will remember Mr Godley’s valiant efforts to save the official Mrs Godley when her dress ignited at a Leeson Street party twelve years previously.   From the Law Library and the Viceregal Court to the dock in the Southern Police Court – how could things have come to this for John Godley?  Read on here to explore his trajectory from 1890 to 1903 – and find out what the criminal process had in store for him and Ms Pritchard!

Image Credit: Fine Art America

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

Leave a Reply