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CITY COURT DISCLOSURES.
Some interesting evidence on the sub ject of matrimonial agencies was given in the City Court yesterday, when Rachael Summers, a young woman of l8, was charged with inducing, and her husband, James Summers, with inciting her to induce, a clergyman to celebrate the marriage of the parties without first obtaining the consent of her parent or guardian. Mr Nolan, who appeared for the defence, said that the charge was laid under section 24 of the Marriage Act, which act forbade the marriage of minors unless such consent was granted. Messrs. Panton, P.M.Power, Lancashire, Verga and Major Bartrop, J P 's, occupied the Bench. The two charges were heard together, the defendants, who are both of youthful appearance, being accommodated with seats
near the solicitors' table.
Lewis Abramovich, describing himself as a minister of the Gospel of the Free Christian Church, stated that he was authorised to celebrate marriages. On February 23, the two defendants visited his place in Queen street, and informed him that they wanted to be married. Witness could not say positively whether the gentleman or the lady broached the subject. He believed at that time he knew better now, that people could
not be married on Sunday. After a conversation,
he arranged that the ceremony should be performed at half past 6 on the following morning. The couple seemed to bo exceedingly interested and began a consultation between themselves. (Laughter)
Sub inspector Milne (sternly). This is
no laughing matter.
Witness (continuing) said he retired from the room leaving his wife to take down the necessary particulars. The sound of voices raised in argument led him to think that either a quarrel was in progress, or that an explanation was required, and he hurried back. His wife told him that the girl was under age, and was with out any written consent. Her father, said the girl, was in the country, she did not know where. On being told that she might obtain the necessary consent from her mother or from a guardian, she replied
that she was unaware of her mothers whereabouts. Witness thereupon told her that Dr. Lloyd, a magistrate who was empowered to give consent papers, resided in Franklin Street, and advised her to call upon him. He would be sure to attend to her, and when she had obtained the necessary papers witness would marry her. The couple agreed to adopt this course and left the premises. Afterwards, witness heard that they had been married at Holt's Matrimonial Agency.
Mr. Panton P.M. May I ask you how long you have been celebrating maniages?
I think I got my authority in October or Novcmber last.
What nationality are you? Are you a Pole? I am a a Russian.
When did you start this new idea of, what do you call it, Free Christian Church? Are you naturalised? Yes, sir. How many years? Scarcely a year.
What occupation had you before this, if any? I was an evangelist.
What? An evangelist to the Hebrews. I have been connected with mission work.
An evangelist to the Hebrews? I didn't
Witness, I suppose I am a Jew by belief.
I came to this country in 1888.
Mr Panton. Were you expelled from Russia? No, I came from England, where I had been living. I have been for 19 years a Christian. Although I am a Jew, I am of the Christian persuasion.
Why did you give those two such absurd advice as to go to Dr Lloyd? Because the girl didn't know where her father was.
Mr. Nolan, Have you any bishop, or is yours a free church ? You are dealing with
Is there no head of your church, then? Christ is the Head of our church.
I mean anybody on earth, or in Melbourne.
Yes, the Rev. Pastor Abbott. I am not under his control. We get no orders, we work together for the same
He used to marry for Holt's, did he not, at £10/6/8 a month, before Westwood took the position? I was told so.
Is Pastor Abbott in partnership with you in this business? No.
Lily Abramovich, wife of the last witness, corroborated the magor part of his evidence, with one unimportant exception.
"Everything went right," she said "until I came to the girl's age: and when I found out what it was, I said 'No one can marry you; what refers to my husband refers to every minister ."'
James Holt matrimonial agent, of 448 Queen street, said that on February 24, the two accused visited him the morning, and he prepared the marriage certificate. They went away and returned at mid-day, when they made a declaration to the effect, that they were both more than 21. This was signed by Westwood and the witness. The Rev. J.J. Westwood married the the couple, and gave them the marriage certificate.
Cross- examined by Mr. Nolan, witness stated that he had been carrying on this business about 14 years.
Didn't it strike you as peculiar that they should be just 21? The declaration covers
If a girl of 12 years of age came and signed a declaration, would you marry her?
Welll, did you in this case, when this pair came to your factory? (No reply.)
Did the minister ask any questions about these two? No. The declaration was read to them. I filled in the contents from information set forth in a paper I received from Mrs. Holt. I cannot say whether that paper was filled in by her. It is not a legal document, and was
How much do you got out of these performances?
The witness declined to answer this question and Mr. Panton did not enforce Mr. Nolans request to compel him to do
Mr. Nolan (taking Mrs. Summers's wedding ring from her finger, and exhibiting it.) Do you sell rings at your establishment?
Will you contradict the girl if she says she paid 16/- for the performance of the ceremony, including the purchase of the ring? (No answer.)
What is Mr. Westwood's salary? I decline to say.
How many marriages a week does he celebrate? I can say, but I won't.
It would help to advertise your business. (Laughter.) Do you usually question customers? It is not my province to ask questions.
Joseph Jewell Westwood said that he was an unattached Baptist minister. He did not belong to the Baptist Union. He had married the accused at Holt's. The young woman said she was over 21. He would not have married them if they had not sworn to that declaration, certainly not. He declined to answer several of
Mr. Nolans questions, and did not appear to have a very clear recollection of what
Mr Nolan. Are You shortsighted, Mr Westwood? Oh, I can see you well enough. (Laughter.)
How much a month do you get there? Ah, wouldn't you like to know!
But I do know. You are getting £10/6/8, deny that on oath!
Witness (seizing the bible.) I do deny it on oath!
Mr. Nolan, well you're not getting as much as the last man! That's all I've got to say (Laughter.)
Referring to the recently married couple, The witness said that they had perjured themselves. He was very sorry for them.
John Charles Kendall and Alice Kendall, the parents of the female accused, said that on February 23, they were away at the farm at Deer Park.Their daughter was absent from home when they returned.
Mr. Nolan (to Mrs. Kendall) would you have consented to the marriage if she had told you about it? Oh, yes.
Constable Mooney said that, in company with Detective McManamny, he had arrested the girl at South Melbourne, an hour after her marriage, on a charge of vagrancy. preferred against her by her
mother. She was discharged next morning. Mr. Nolan said that this was a hard case and he
would see this as a priority hard case.
Mr. Panton, a case has been made out. Mr. Nolan submitted that there was no evidence that either of the defendants had attempted to induce any person to marry them. Mrs Holt, to whom the statements were
made, had not been
called as a witness. The accused were committed
for trial, husband and wife being admitted to bail in sureties of £50 and £20 respectively.