English Divorce Granted After Errant Wife Run to Earth in Four Courts Hotel , 1904

This advertisement for the Four Courts Hotel published in a Dublin Grand Opera Society Brochure from 1951, via Archive.org, includes a photograph of the exterior of the hotel.
A 1902 newspaper advertisement for the newly opened Four Courts Hotel, via British Newspaper Archive, references a Ping Pong Room in addition to the usual conveniences.

The Four Courts Hotel opened beside the Four Courts on Inns Quay in 1902, in place of its predecessor the Angel, which, as previously documented, had suffered a number of mysterious deaths during its period of operation. If the cuisine at the Angel foreshortened lives, the bedrooms at Four Courts Hotel did the same thing for marriages – below is the story of just one of a number of divorces in which its staff were called to give evidence.

From the Daily Mirror, 9 March 1904:


The story of how a high-spirited young Irish girl, resolutely determined not to submit to the tyranny of a husband twenty-seven years her senior who asked her to look after his home for him, successfully achieved her end was told before Mr. Justice Barnes yesterday.

Mrs. Belle Sutter’s successful resistance, then, culminated in a divorce obtained from her by her husband, Mr. Alexander Oliver Sutter, who keeps a draper’s shop in Brighton.

To appreciate fully the following account of Mrs. Sutter’s struggle for freedom it is necessary to examine carefully a message which she wrote to her husband shortly after her marriage.  This is the message: – “My dear boy, don’t think that you can boast of breaking the spirit of an Irish girl, for you never can.”

Mr. Sutter never could.  Although, himself unconscious of the effort, he, according to Mrs. Sutter, repeatedly tried, she repeatedly thwarted him by the process of temporarily throwing off the matrimonial yoke.

Mr. Sutter married Mrs. Sutter in 1902.  He was then a widower, forty-seven years of age, with a family of two children, his first wife having died in 1899.  He wished for somebody to look after his children, and when he saw twenty-year-old Miss Belle during a holiday in Belfast he thought she was the very girl.  She was as beautiful as only an Irish colleen can be, and a marriage was speedily arranged.  There was only one obstacle.  Miss Belle frankly confessed that she had had tender passages with another gentleman, but Mr. Sutter, although he could not elicit this gentleman’s name, declared that the said gentleman was no objection.

Yet within a month of the marriage, which took place at the registrar’s office in Brighton, Mrs. Sutter had come to the conclusion that an attempt was being made to tame her and that she must show her spirit.  She was expected to look after the children instead of being taken to the theatre, so she went off to her family in Belfast.

Very reluctantly she at length returned in answer to her husband’s entreaties, but in order to vindicate her spirit she brought it back with her little brother.


The little brother was the cause of more trouble, and Mrs. Sutter at once recognized that she was being trampled on again.  Off she went to Belfast for a second time, and on this occasion, she stayed away for three months.

Giving up all hope of getting her back, Mr. Sutter went into lodgings, and sold his home.  On the day after the sale the untamed Mrs. Sutter waked into his shop, newly arrived from Ireland.

Having no home to take his wife to, Mr. Sutter was forced to go to a boarding house with her.  Here Mrs. Sutter showed her spirit by flirting with a border.

Mr. Sutter, unable to understand her position, objected, and Mrs. Sutter thought it fitting to give a further manifestation of indomitability. She went off to Belfast for a third time.

In an effort to catch her Mr. Sutter traced her to the Grand Hotel, in London, but all he found tangible was a telegram to her saying ‘Meet me Four Courts Hotel, Dublin.’  Her relations had been writing to her, thought Mr. Sutter.

Mrs. Sutter came back from the north of Ireland in due course, according to her wont, and with her came the intimation that during her absence she had been showing her spirit by running up bills in Dublin in her husband’s name.

Mr. Sutter refused to pay the bills, and the consequence was that a writ reached Brighton.  ‘I will fight the case,’ said Mr. Sutter, although his wife asked him not to do so.  But he did not tell his wife that he was going to Ireland to oppose her creditors.  Therefore, he was immensely surprised on arriving at Euston, on the way to catch the mail boat to Dublin, to find that Mrs. Sutter was also taking a fourth trip to see her relatives.  She was on the platform armed with a first-class ticket, notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Sutter’s finances only enabled him to take a ‘second class’.

Exercising the prerogative of a husband, Mr. Sutter took charge of his wife for the rest of the trip, and when they arrived in Dublin engaged comfortable quarters for them both.  He was quite willing that she should go on to Belfast, and arranged to see her off on a train that left the next evening.

Then he went out about the writ.

But when he returned, he found that Mrs. Sutter had again shown her spirit.  She was nowhere to be found.

Mr. Sutter at once made an inspection of the chief Dublin hotels, but no Mrs. Sutter could be found.  It was not until the next morning that the wording of the Grand Hotel telegram occurred to his mind – ‘Meet me at the Four Courts Hotel, Dublin.’ Had Mrs. Sutter shown her spirit by going thither?


The question was put by Mr. Sutter to the Four Courts Hotel management.

There was no Mrs. Sutter, was the reply, but there was Mrs. Wright staying in the hotel with her husband, Mr. Wright.

Finding that the description of Mrs. Wright tallied with that of Mrs. Sutter, Mr. Sutter demanded to be shown up to the lady’s bedroom.

Accompanied by the chambermaid he found Mrs. Sutter in bed.

‘I have found you out,’ was all that Mr. Sutter trusted himself to say, and then, on turning on his heel, he met Mr. Wright at the bedroom door.

When Mr. Sutter subsequently began divorce proceedings Mrs. Sutter still showed her spirit.  She went to the shop in Brighton with some friends and asked for a reconciliation.

Yesterday, besides Mr. Sutter, only the Four Courts’ Hotel chambermaid gave evidence, and a decree was at once granted.”

Was the Four Courts Hotel one of those hotels? More tragic tales of destruction of married bliss associated with it to come!

Author: Ruth Cannon BL

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

Leave a Reply