Who’s Afraid of Justice Stephen?

Adeline Virginia STEPHEN was seven years old when her Uncle James put on the black cap and addressed Florence Elizabeth MAYBRICK:-

Prisoner at the bar, I am no longer able to treat you as being innocent of the dreadful crime laid to your charge. You have been convicted by a jury of this city, after a lengthy and most painful investigation, followed by a defense which was in every respect worthy of the man. The jury has convicted you, and the law leaves me no discretion, and I must pass the sentence of the law:

‘The court doth order you to be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and from themce to the place of execution, and that you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and that your body be afterward buried within the precincts of the prison in which you shall be confined after your conviction. And may the Lord have mercy upon your soul.’

‘My Fifteen Lost Years’, Florence Elizabeth Maybrick

“The man” referred to above was Sir Charles Arthur RUSSELL, who would become Lord Chief Justice of England five years later. He was, I think, convinced of Florence Maybrick’s innocence from first meeting her and presented all the arguments that should have brought her acquittal. But on this occasion “the first advocate of his age” was no match for Justice Stephen who, reflecting on his service in India, once said:-

It is far pleasanter to sit comfortably in the shade rubbing red pepper in some poor devil’s eyes, than to go about in the sun hunting up evidence.

Sir Charles came from a family of middling circumstances in Ireland and this is reflected in his pedigree on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. As if to underline the unfairness of human existence, Justice Stephen’s pedigree comes close to falling into the “super” category.

Early in her memoir, My Fifteen Lost Years, Florence refers to “Mr Swift” visiting her in Walton Jail before her trial began. I so wanted Thomas to be part of her defence team but he was for the prosection, supporting Mr ADDISON QC and Mr McCONNELL. Sir Charles was assisted by “Mr PICKFORD and Messrs CLEAVER”. (Apologies for giving the wrong book title on Monday.)

At least three of Thomas Swift’s sons became lawyers. A while back, I wrote about Ernest William facing a judgment of sorts in 1890 (Swift Action).

Rigby Philip Watson SWIFT was Thomas’ first child born to second wife Emily Mary DAFT.

Sir Rigby Swift, Elliott & Fry, National Portrait Gallery, CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0

Following Ernest William’s death in 1927, 37 years after he was Pasteurized, probate was awarded to wife Frances Isabel and half-brother Sir Rigby.

More facets of the miscarriage of justice here.

Mark of Man 58 · Lime Hole

North Cliffs