Criminal Conversation

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Crim Con!! Damages Fifteen Thousand Pounds! Fairburn (Senior’s) Edition of the Trial Between Lord Roseberry [sic] and Sir Henry Mildmay, for Criminal Conversation with the Plaintiff’s Wife: Before J. Birchall, Esq. at the Sheriff’s Court, Bedford-Street, on Saturday, December 10th, 1814: including the Attorney-General’s Speech and Mr. Brougham’s Reply, at Full Length: Taken in Short-Hand … Fourth edition including the Love Letters (London: John Fairburn, 1814). Frontispiece by George Cruikshank. Graphic Arts Cruik 1814.5

This is the court record of the 1814 trial accusing Sir Henry Mildmay (1787-1848) of “crim com” or adultery with his deceased wife’s sister Harriett Bouverie (died 1834). At the time, Bouverie was the wife of Sir Archibald John Primrose, 4th Earl of Rosebery (1783-1868) and mother of their four children. While the charges were not contested, a trial was held to assess the damages. The jury awarded Rosebery the sum of 15,000 pounds, the highest damages ever given in a case of Crim Con.

Rosebery divorced his wife the following month and Mildmay married her the following year in Germany, “by special permission of the King of Wurttemburg.” Harriett had three more children with her second husband and they lived happily together for nearly twenty years.