71 Bridge Street
History of 71 Bridge Street
Charles Frederick Searle, 28, medical practitioner, b Cambridge
Anne, 29, b Wales
Mabel Hart, 19, servant, b Manchester
Moore’s Athletic Stores and Sports Depot, hairdressers and perfumers
Cecil Cox, proprietor
Charles Searle, MB BC MRCS LRCP
The following was reported in the Illustrated Police News 31/3/1932
“HELEN OF TROY CASE” THE DOCTOR WINS. JUDGE ON WIVES’ RIGHTS. SECRET OF MARRIED HAPPINESS. Mr. Justice McCardie, in the King’s Bench Division, gave judgment with costs for Dr. Searle in the Cambridge “Helen of Troy case.
Two days were occupied at Cambridge Assizes and then counsel’s arguments were heard in London in this remarkable case brought by Mr. John Dover Place, grocer’s assistant of Collier’s road, Cambridge, against Dr. Charles Frederick Searle of Bridge-street, Cambridge, for damages for the alleged enticing away of his wife. The doctor denied the charge.
Dr Searle announced that he is leaving Cambridge to take up an appointment in Kenya, and Mrs Place has also stated that she is leaving the town. Both were in court at the final hearing.
Delivering judgment, Mr Justice Mc Cardie observed that at the close of Mr Place’s case he felt grave doubt whether there was evidence on which the jury could find a verdict for Mr Place. He thought it better, however, not to rule then the submission of Dr. Searle’s counsel that the case should be withdrawn from the jury. He reserved the point until the conclusion of the whole hearing.
He had since had the advantage of full arguments and of a close analysis of the testimony given at Cambridge.
The action involved Technical legal considerations. It did not turn on prejudice, sympathy, or social outlook.
In substance, the question was whether there was evidence on which the jury could properly and fairly find a verdict for Mr. Place on the cause of action alleged by him.
The case was exceptional. It raised in acute fashion several problems of matrimonial and social life. Not only was it an action of type which was rarely before the Courts, but the facts in themselves were remarkable.
The action was based on the allegation that Dr. Searle had enticed and persuaded away Mr. Place’s wife, whereby her husband was deprived of her company and society and had suffered loss.
The alleged enticement took place, if at all, shortly after midnight on July 11, 1931. It occurred within the space of second, and was effected by the use of not more than six words— “Come on, Gwen, we will go.”
Mr. Place had said, that he did not ask jury to award him damages, except, perhaps, nominal damages. If that assertion was true, Mr. Place could ask to be freed from the accusation of blackmail as the object of the action.
But it still left him open to the equally grave suggestion that he commenced the litigation for the purpose of destroying, so far possible, the reputation and practice of Dr Searle.
Reviewing the law applicable to the case, Mr. Justice McCardie said that position of wife in 1745 was wholly different from that which she held to-day.
“Broadly speaking, it was the view of lawyers and the law m the middle of the eighteenth century that the property of woman became her husband’s on marriage, that her body belonged to him, that could restrain her liberty at his pleasure, and that he could administer physical correction at his discretion, subject, of course, to the rule of moderation.
“To-day it must taken to the the law that an action for enticement still lies, although the position of a married woman has undergone a revolutionary change.
” Under the Married Women Property Acts her property is now her own; she can exclude her husband from enjoying any part of it; the husband cannot restrain her physical liberty; he cannot administer any physical punishment; her freedom of occupation cannot be restricted him; professions (save the Ecclesiastical) are open to her; she possesses full political rights.”
Since a famous decision in 1891, the shackles of servitude had fallen from the limbs of married women and they were free to come and at their own will.
Their high moral obligation remained and their social obligations were unimpaired, but their physical freedom of movement was recognised and established by the law .
“I am not concerned with the question of ethics. Every good woman must wish to fulfil, if possible, her duties as a wife. But it seems clear that, in law, a married woman is free depart when she wishes from her husband’s home. He cannot prevent her from doing so, and the law disclaims his power to do so.”
As stated above, judgment was given to Dr. Searle.
Coulson Horace & Sons, opticians