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THIs action, involving the title to a considerable landed estate in the county of Cork, in Ireland, and affecting deeply the character and reputation of the parties whose transactions were the subject of inquiry, was tried at Dublin before Mr. Justice Keogh and a Special Jury in the month of July in this year. There had been a preliminary hearing in the suit in the Court of Chancery upon the question whether the matters involved were proper to be submitted to the decision of a jury. After full argument the Court directed that an issue should be tried, for the purpose of ascertaining whether a certain instrument was the last will of Henry, Earl of Egmont. In this proceeding Sir W. L. Darell was the plaintiff, and the Earl of Egmont the defendant. There was a long array of counsel on either side. Dr. Ball, Q.C., opened the case for the plaintiff. From his statement it appeared that the alleged will purported to devise all the freehold and personal estates, including the rights of presentation to two livings in England, to Edward Tierney, of Fitzwilliam-street, Dublin, and to his heirs and assigns for ever, constituting him the sole residuary legatee, after the payment of some small charges. Three elements are required for the validity of every testamentary instrument—due execution, testamentary capacity, and testamentary intelligence. Counsel mentioned a number of facts to prove that none of these was wanting in the present case. The testator was born in 1796; he came of age in 1817, and died, at the age offorty-five, in 1841. The title of Egmont had originally attached to it very large estates in Ireland and England, but in 1770 the title of Arden was introduced into the family, and to this title a large portion of the Egmont estates was annexed. Sir Edward Tierney, and his brother, Dr. Tierney, afterwards Sir Matthew, were the sons of a gentleman who lived in the city of Lincoln, and rose to great affluence and a high station. Edward, the solicitor, was at one time agent to the Duke of Devonshire, and he subsequently obtained the important office of solicitor and clerk in the Court of Error. His annual income might be reckoned by thousands. The two brothers married two sisters named Jones, who each possessed a fortune of 20,000l. Sir Matthew had no child; Edward had two sons and a daughter; and the first trace we find of the origin of the relation of the Tierneys with the Egmont family is in connexion with the will of the first son of Edward Tierney. Matthew was a physician residing at Brighton, where he enjoyed the personal favour of George IV. He there became acquainted with the mother of Henry, Lord Egmont, then one of the ornaments of the Court. The acquaintance of the Tierneys with this lady ripened into friendship. The first child of Edward Tierney was christened Percival, that being the title of Lord Egmont's heir, and the child's god-parents were the Countess and her son. The Earl was from his early days taught to reverence and respect Edward Tierney, who thus became the friend and counsellor of the family, and when the father of Henry succeeded to the title he appointed him agent to his Irish estates. When the testator became possessed of those estates they were heavily encumbered. In 1823, as appeared by a letter from Mr. Tidd, Q.C., the claims upon them amounted to 300,000l., the valuation of them being about 15,000l. a year. Immediately after the accession of Henry, Lord Percival (the testator) to the title, it became necessary, in order to meet the embarrassments in which the family were plunged, to borrow money. Two trust deeds were accordingly executed, whereby the whole estates were conveyed to Henry, Lord Percival, Mr. Teed, and Mr. Edward Tierney. These trustees were to pay out of the rents an annuity of 2000l. a year to Lord Egmont, and 1000l. a year to his son. They were also to bar all entail, and to invest the property in the right of the Earl of Egmont, so as to give him power to dispose of it ultimately to the testator, Lord Percival. In addition to being trustee, Mr. Tierney was appointed agent, invested with the power of dealing with the tenants, paying out sums of money for fencing, draining, planting, building, and otherwise increasing the value of the land,-a much-needed provision, for the Egmont estates were then the most neglected and unimproved in Ireland. Lord Percival appears, by his letters written to his agent at that time, to have been a man of education and refinement. His feeling of disappointment, however, on account of the enormous embarrassments on his property, led him to drink, and at an early period of his life he acquired habits of dissipation. “But it should be remembered,” observed the counsel, “that this was at a time when dissipation was the rule of English society.” His agent, however, endeavoured to cure his bad habits, and on the 28th of April, 1826, he addressed a letter to him earnestly entreating him to abandon his evil courses and his associates. The father, in the enjoyment of 2000l. a year, and protected by his privileges as a peer, took a house at Epsom, and went to reside there. The son, not being in the House of Commons, and therefore unprotected, was exposed to actions and judgments and arrests, by a crowd of encumbrancers and money-lenders, who had now additional claims upon him, in consequence of his having joined in the responsibility for his father's liabilities. It was impossible, therefore, for him to reside with his father at Epsom, for he would have been subject to arrest there. He was consequently obliged to roam abroad, and to have no certain home. In order to be relieved from this vagabond kind of life, and to be able to defy the bailiffs, he was anxious to get into Parliament, and he contested a borough. This turned out to be a most unfortunate affair, for, while he failed to get a seat in Parliament, he plunged himself still deeper in debt. Counsel read correspondence in support of these statements. The condition of matters, therefore, when Henry succeeded to the title was, that he had property which he valued at 200,000l., on which there was a debt of 101,000l., without counting 23,000l. which he owed to Mr. Tierney. He then removed to a place in Wiltshire called Burderop Park, which he had purchased in the name of Mrs. Clesse, with whom he lived as if they were members of one family, being visited by persons of distinction and respectability in the neighbourhood. About the same time he became possessed by the death of Mr. Bellasis of an estate in Wales worth 600l. or 700l. a year. He dropped his title, and passed as Mr. Lovell, but there was something in his manners and conversation which led his visitors to believe that he had occupied a much higher rank than the one he then filled. Baffled in his aspirations, and almost overwhelmed with a load of embarrassments, he had unhappily sought solace in an indulgence to which many noble natures had yielded, and contracted the worst and most degrading of vices; “but still,” said Dr. Ball, “at all times he preserved an elevation of mind and dignity of manner which suggested to those around him what his real position was. Up to the last his conduct was that of a nobleman and a gentleman.” Similar inconsistencies had been observed in many eminent men. It should not then be alleged that the habit of drinking deprived Lord Egmont of capacity to make a will. His letters proved that he had acuteness in business matters. He went to Lisbon in 1840, and remained there till October, 1841, and he wrote a letter from that place about two months before his death, which showed that he was in the full possession of his faculties. On the 3rd of December, the son of Mrs. Clesse (who had died on the Continent), wrote from London to Mr. Tierney in Dublin, that he had found out where the Earl was staying—that he was in a bad way, the doctor being afraid that his lungs and his liver were affected, and requesting Mr. Tierney's advice as to what should be done if any thing should happen to the Earl. A letter written by Mr. Tierney was read, dated 5th December, stating his intention of leaving Dublin the succeeding day for London; he could not have reached London before the night of the 7th. With the events that transpired on the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th—the last being the day on which the will was executed—three persons only were acquainted. The Earl of Egmont was one— he was dead; Edward Tierney was one—he was dead; Parkinson was the other—he was alive. Counsel then adverted to the fact that the testimony of Parkinson had, for reasons he would subsequently make clear, been prevented from being given for the plaintiff by the defendant; but produced a document which they had obtained, and which had been taken down by Parkinson at the dictation of the Earl a few days before his death. These were instructions for his will, and the effect of them was to make Edward Tierney his heir and residuary legatee. The Earl died on the morning of the 23rd, in lodgings in London, having a few days before left Webb's Hotel, where the will had been executed on the 14th. Counsel then described the means by which Lord Arden, the present defendant, came into possession of the estates and titles of the Earl of Egmont, being through the branch of the family adverted to in the early portion of his address, and he also commented on the length of time subsequent to the execution of the will at which the attempt to overthrow it was made. He then referred to the manner in which it was sought to overthrow the will to Sir Edward Tierney. The defendant did not allege incapacity or insanity, but that the Earl, a man who was in the habit of inquiring most strictly into the state of his affairs, at the time of his death had no idea whatsoever of the value of the property he was devising. The defendant alleged that there was fraud in the obtaining of the will, but it would lie on the defendant to prove that allegation —not on his client to disprove it. There was scarcely any intimacy between Earl Henry and Lord Arden and the heiresses-at-law, and there was no reason why he should leave his estates to those persons who were already amply provided for in preference to Tierney, his tried and trusted friend. There could be no doubt, also, that the property had increased vastly since Earl Henry's death. partly owing to the fact that all Irish property had greatly increased in value. and partly that Tierney had judiciously expended a sum of 70,000l. on its improvement. He asked why this case had not been brought on in the lifetime of Sir Edward Tierney. Every witness of importance was dead, except Woodfall and Tidd, the latter of whom had been spirited away, and the former had been made the solicitor of the Earl of Egmont. The first witness called for the plaintiff was Mr. Thomas Stevens, a solicitor, practising in London, who deposed that he engrossed the will of Lord Egmont in December, 1841, and saw him sign it, in the presence of John Parkinson. The paper of instructions for the will is also in the witness's handwriting. After the will was engrossed Mr. Tierney came to the office of Messrs. Lucas and Parkinson, in which witness was then clerk, and after the arrival of that gentleman was reported Mr. Parkinson came to witness, bringing with him the engrossment and the draught. There was an addition put to them, which was the interlineation, written in pencil. This interlineation he introduced into the engrossment. When he saw the gentleman who was called Lovell execute the papers he appeared in a very bad state of health. Before this no business was ever transacted in the office either for Mr. Lovell or Lord Egmont. He had not the slightest knowledge of the property conveyed in the will. It was not his business to engross documents, and this was an exceptional case. He got a sovereign for doing it. He had said that Mr. Lovell was a competent testator. Witness made a memorandum of the transaction at the time, and preserved it for many years. Several documents having been handed in, the Rev. Mr. Buckley, for forty years parish priest of Buttevant, was examined. He deposed that he had been personally acquainted with the late Sir Edward Tierney for at least thirty years. Part of the Egmont property is in his parish, and when he went there a great part of it was sublet in small farms and holdings. The houses were in a wretched state; the land was in a very bad condition. There were very few dairies and very little planting. Sir E. Tierney made improvements. When lands fell out of lease he converted them into large farms, erected good buildings, and encouraged the tenantry to do the same; drainage works were carried out, suitable offices built, with good fences, which witness considered judicious and necessary improvements. Kanturk, when he knew it first, was a miserable place, but under Sir E. Tierney's management it was much improved. On being cross-examined, the witness stated that he got a farm from Sir E. Tierney for his brother, and that the rents were generally raised by him as the leases fell in. The next witness was Mr. J. M'Carthy, J.P. and D.L. He had known Kanturk and the property about it for thirty years. He farms about 2000 acres himself, and is a judge of the improvement of land. Sir Edward Tierney had improved the property very much. There was a house built and very fine offices, something too good if built out of the rents of the estate. Simon Simcox gave similar testimony. Improvements upon a large scale were always going On. Mrs. Laver, widow of Surgeon Laver, had been residing at Hythe from 1830 to 1843 next door but one to Mr. Lovell and Mrs. Clesse, who occupied a very fine residence, with a farm and coachhouse and stables. Mr. Lovell kept a yacht and a small phaeton. She knew Mrs. Clesse very intimately, visited often in the forenoon, and waited for lunch, at which Mr. Lovell was present, and she dined there at least ten times during the three years they were her neighbours. Mr. Lovell was a perfect gentleman—educated, with most pleasing conversation. She never observed him intoxicated.
Miss Sarah Jones deposed that she lived at Hythe in 1833, and lives there now. She had lived in the house with Mrs. Clesse for about three weeks at a time, and at intervals for other periods. Mr. Lovell used to come into the room at tea-time, but did not take tea. He addressed Mrs. Clesse as his sister. Witness never saw Mr. Lovell intoxicated. Sir E. Tierney used to come there on a visit, but never remained more than twenty-four hours. Mr. Lovell and Mrs. Clesse always seemed much gratified when he came, and spoke of him in the highest terms. Witness was also with them at Southampton and Burderop Park, and attended Mrs. Clesse when she was ill. Never saw Mr. Lovell intoxicated. He occasionally took wine freely, but not to excess. He was as regular a man as ever she saw. He was very domestic, and very fond of Mrs. Clesse. Dr. Francis Samuels gave evidence with regard to several persons in England who were summoned as witnesses in the case, but who were unable to attend, and whose affidavits to that effect were read. The Rev. Giles Daubeny, a rector and a magistrate of Wilts, deposed that Mr. Lovell and Mrs. Clesse, supposed to be his sister, came to his parish to reside. They brought no letters of introduction, and, therefore, were not visited, except by some clergymen and their families, but they gave some morning parties. Witness had dined at Burderop Park. He considered Mr. Lovell a thorough gentleman; his conversation above par, and intelligent. The Rev. Mr. Holme, and several other witnesses, gave testimony to the same effect. The widow of the Rev. Mr. Bullock, who had been incumbent of the parish in which the so-called Mr. Lovell resided, made an affidavit to the effect that her husband had been on the most intimate terms with him. He heard Mrs. Clesse complain that he was fond of drink, which caused her great anxiety; but when deponent was at the park, and when the Earl was at the vicarage, he always conducted himself as a gentleman. John Rogers, a gamekeeper, stated that the Earl was fond of shooting, that he accompanied him in that sport, that he drank some port wine while out, and that one morning he was with his lordship in his parlour for three and a half hours, looking over three couple of dogs and talking about them. Dr. Cartwright and Dr. Marks, the latter of whom attended Mrs. Clesse at Lisbon, bore testimony to the gentlemanly manners and sober habits of the Earl. Colonel John Harper deposed that he met Lord Egmont at Lisbon, often conversed with him in the coffee-room of the hotel and rode with him. He found him intelligent, able to talk like a gentleman on any subject that turned up; but admitted that he had seen his lordship intoxicated more than once in the evening, adding that he certainly appeared to be a person capable of transacting business, with very good abilities. He dined in his private room, and afterwards he would come down to the coffee-room and converse with the people when he was drunk. Thomas Ryan deposed that he often met Lord Egmont at the office of Messrs. Woodgate, and was the attesting witness to all the deeds. Mr. Wynne, their managing clerk, was the other witness. In 1841 he met Lord Egmont in the street by accident, and congratulated him on his healthy appearance. He was dressed like a gentleman. He looked in the witness's face with an expression he could not forget, and said, “The governor is a very good fellow.” By “the governor" he meant Sir Edward Tierney. When he signed the deeds he was perfectly capable of knowing what he did. Sir Edward Tierney was over seventy