Gorey v Donovan

The demise of Patrick Donovan

James Gorey sued Patrick Donovan in 1865 for getting his daughter Mary pregnant, claiming one thousand pounds in damages.

The lawsuit was part of an ongoing feud between the two men, which stretched over several years and finished only when Donovan died in mysterious circumstances.

The Supreme Court action never proceeded to trial, suggesting James primarily wanted to shame and irritate Donovan. As mentioned in the previous post, Mary Gorey sued Donovan in the local court for maintenance of her illegitimate child. This action failed because paternity couldn’t be proved.

The Supreme Court writ states that Mary was a servant of Donovan when he “debauched and carnally knew her”.

In his response, Donovan denied being the father of Mary’s child and said she was not his servant. The second part appears to be true. It’s likely that James claimed otherwise because that was the only basis to seek damages. I imagine it wasn’t an offence in 1865 to get a woman pregnant outside of marriage, but there may have been legal recourse if the girl were a servant.

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