Lonely hearts fraud in Kensington

In September 1888 a young woman appeared before the magistrate at Hammersmith Police Court asking for a warrant to arrest a man she believed had defrauded her.

Early that summer the unnamed maid had posted an advertisement in the papers which read:

“A respectable young woman would like to correspond with a respectable young man; Church of England; over 5ft.; a country one preferred.”

She got a quick response, from a man claiming to be a chemist’s assistant from Woolwich. They met and got on well and so saw each other ‘several times’. Eventually he proposed and she accepted.

Now the young woman bought some furniture and gave her fiancée £33 so that he might purchase a chemist’s shop at Charing Cross. They were set up for marriage and a bright future together, or so she thought.

When they next met he informed her he had to go up to Northampton as his uncle was ill. Off he went with a promise of a swift return when his relative had recovered. However, he had now been gone some time and it was dawning on her that she had been conned; he had no intention of marrying her and had just taken her money, hence her appeal to the court.

Mr. Paget, the justice, agreed it was a breach of promise ‘but not a false pretence’, he could do nothing for her here but she could ‘bring an action for breach of promise of marriage’. He added (somewhat unhelpfully) that ‘if girls would advertise for husbands and meet young men, he could not help them’.


[from The Morning Post , Saturday, September 01, 1888]

2 thoughts on “Lonely hearts fraud in Kensington

  1. It brings to mind the Music Hall song – “Can’t get away to marry you today, my wife won’t let me.” Could you really buy a chemist’s shop for £33!


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