The course of true love never did run smooth... and this was certainly the case for one soon-to-be-married couple in Jersey, who were charged with forgery and theft before they had the chance to say ‘I do’.
Edith Gosling (21) and Stanley Reginald Hall (22) were due to hold their wedding on 9 June 1912 but were arrested two days before their big day and ended up in separate prison cells instead.
They were arrested after a bank identified several suspicious cheques and called in the police.
The cheques belonged to Colonel William Frederick Fairlie, of Middleswood, St. Saviour, who Edith had worked as a domestic servant for from 29 February until 24 May that year. Near the end of her employment, she was cleaning one of the rooms at his property and found a cheque book in an unlocked drawer. She took three blank cheques with her.
On 31 May, the manager of London City and Midland Bank Limited, William Charles Lemprière, received a cheque for the sum of £2, 17s, 6d. It was signed by ‘S R Hall’ on 27 May and was payable to ‘Catesby’.
Pictured: Newspaper reports chronicle Edith and Stanley's appearances in court. (Jersey Heritage)
Knowing that there was no-one by that name with an account, Mr Lemprière worked out that the cheque was from Colonel Fairlie’s book. The Colonel brought his chequebook into the bank and they discovered the cheque and counter foil were missing. At the time, Colonel Fairlie had no idea who had taken the cheque but called back the following day to say that his former employee, Edith, was engaged to a man named Stanley Hall.
A few days later on 4 June, a young lady went into the same bank. She presented a cheque for the sum of £1, 16s and 8d to be cashed and paid to Emily Gosling, who was Edith’s sister, in the name of ‘Reverend W Bache’.
The cashier knew that Reverend Bache did not hold an account with the bank and so raised the matter with Mr Lemprière. He proceeded to question the woman, who claimed she was Emily and the cheque was for money owed to her in wages. He asked her if she knew Colonel Fairlie and she said that her sister had previously worked at his house.
Mr Lemprière told her to tell Reverend Bache to come in and see him the following day and after she left, he contacted the Attorney General to report what had taken place. Centenier Luxon of the St. Helier Honorary Police was called in to investigate.
Cententier Luxon went to the family home. Edith was not there so he left a message for her to come and see him. That evening, she and her father called on the Centenier. He produced the cheque and asked her where she had received it from. She replied that she had found it at First Tower.
Pictured: Stanley and Edith's pleas as they were reported in the JEP (Jersey Heritage)
After a little prompting, Edith admitted that she had stolen it from Colonel Fairlie and had forged Reverend Bache’s name and her sister’s signature. She was promptly arrested with bail set at £15 and ordered to appear in Court.
On Friday 7 June, Mr Lemprière received another cheque, this one for the sum of £2, 10s and made out to Mappin and Webb Limited in London. It was signed by’ S R Hall’ and was used to purchase a gold wedding ring. He telegraphed the company to ask if they had sent any goods out and the jewellers confirmed that they had sent the ring to Mr Hall of 6, Kensington Place.
Mr Lemprière passed on this information to Centenier Luxon, who went to talk to Stanley. He very quickly declared that he had nothing to do with it and it was Edith who had wanted a ring from London, against his exhortations. Records show that he was quick to blame his fiancée, saying: “I did not send it, it was my young woman.” When asked if he signed the cheque, he said: “I did not write it, she did it.”
The police officer spoke to Stanley’s mother, who produced a packet from Mappin and Webb containing the gold ring. Hall was duly arrested. Later on, Centenier Luxon searched two rooms at a property in Great Union Road, which had been taken by Stanley, and found two price lists from Mappin and Webb, as well as two sheets, which were the property of Colonel Fairlie.
The case was heard by the Magistrate’s Court before being passed to the Royal Court as it was considered a serious crime. Edith pleaded guilty but Stanley maintained his innocence.
When questioned in Court, Stanley said that he and Edith had known each other for 6½ years and were due to marry on 9 June, only a couple of days after they were arrested. He said he had no money and he wanted to buy the ring locally but that Edith had insisted they purchase it from London.
Pictured: The Jersey Evening Post's report of the couple's sentencing. (Jersey Heritage)
Asked by the Bailiff how he was going to buy a ring in Jersey when he had no money, Stanley said he was in no rush to get married. When it was pointed out that their wedding was due to take place on 9 June, he responded that this was only because she had wished it. The Bailiff reminded him that she couldn’t get married without Stanley’s consent.
The defence argued that Stanley was ignorant to what was going on and just did what his fiancée asked him to do. The Court wasn’t convinced and he was found guilty, together with his partner.
In summing up, the Solicitor General, who was prosecuting, said it was difficult to know exactly what conclusion he should ask for in this case. They were two young people with no previous convictions but ignorance could not be accepted as a plea as a series of thefts had taken place.
When last prosecuting for forgery, a sentence of two years’ hard labour was handed down but he said that he “did not wish to be so severe”. He asked for Edith to be sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment with hard labour and Stanley, who was only guilty on one count, to receive four months’ imprisonment with hard labour.
Advocate Alavoine, who was defending Edith, asked for mercy saying that she had pleaded guilty from the start and had not said one single word against her young man, despite him not hesitating to put all of the blame on her. In addition, Miss Dodgin, who worked for St. Thomas’ Refuge, was in Court and willing to find Edith work in a house as a servant.
Pictured: Police photos of Edith and Stanley. (Jersey Heritage)
These pleas were ignored and the pair were told that the sentence had already been greatly reduced and they had committed a crime and should be punished accordingly.
Love did not conquer all and after this experience, Edith and Stanley did not marry each other. Edith’s name can be found in the 1921 cenus as a servant to the Le Flock family.
Stanley joined up and was sadly killed in action in the First World War when fighting with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at the Dardanelles on 16 June 1915.
For more stories from the archives, take a look at the Archives & Collections Online (ACO) catalogue here.
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