The Times (London).
9 April 1895
Before Mr. Justice Collins.
Harold Wood, 30, merchant, Annie Bowyer, 24, nurse, and Emma Nicholson, who surrendered, were indicted for unlawfully conspiring together to procure the miscarriage of Emma Nicholson.
Mr. Bodkin and Mr. Travers Humphreys conducted the prosecution; Mr. Geohegan and Mr. Lethbridge Marshall defended Wood, Mr. Horace Avory defended Bowyer, and Mr. Poland Q.C., Mr. J.P. Grain, and Mr. Leonard Kershaw defended Nicholson. Mr. Sidney Knox and Mr. P. Clifford Probyn held watching briefs.
The defendant Mrs. Emma Nicholson resided with her husband, Mr. Nicholson, at Grosvenor house, Maidenhead. The defendant Wood also lived at Maidenhead and was a constant visitor at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholson, of both of whom he was an intimate friend. The defendant Bowyer was a certificated midwife and trained nurse, and was a stranger to Mrs. Nicholson before February 20 last. It seemed that in February Mrs. Nicholson was pregnant. On February 18 Wood called at a house in Holles street, Oxford street, where there were apartments to let, and said he required some rooms for an invalid lady and her companion, and he engaged some rooms on the drawing room floor for the lady and her companion. On February 20 Mrs. Nicholson went to the rooms in Holles street which Wood had taken and she stayed there till March 14. On the afternoon of February 20 Wood and Bowyer came to the rooms, and Bowyer remained there till February 27, attending Mrs. Nicholson. From February 20 to February 26 Wood called at the house almost every day, the three defendants sometimes dining together there. On February 25 Mrs. Nicholson called upon Dr. Fenton, who had attended her ten years before, after her confinement, and asked him whether she was pregnant. Dr. Fenton made an examination of her and told her that she was pregnant. Mrs. Nicholson said it would spoil her pleasure in the summer. Dr. Fenton discovered certain marks which, in his opinion, had been caused by the use of some instrument. He questioned Mrs. Nicholson, and she said that she went to a midwife on the Friday before and the midwife used an instrument and told her that she was not pregnant and advised her to see a doctor. Dr. Fenton pointed out the folly of acting in that way and how wrong it was and said the midwife might get into serious trouble, but he said that no serious harm had been done and that the child would be born in the ordinary course. Dr. Fenton said he would have nothing to do with such a case. Mrs. Nicholson replied, "No, I know no doctor would, and that is why I went to a midwife." Mrs. Nicholson went back to Holles street. On the evening of February 27 a note was sent by Bowyer to Dr. Fenton asking him to call and see Mrs. Nicholson at Holles street. Dr. Fenton went there and found Mrs. Nicholson very ill. Mrs. Nicholson said the nurse had used an instrument upon her. Dr. Fenton said the case was very serious and that he must have a second opinion, and that there must be a nurse to attend Mrs. Nicholson. Bowyer came into the and Dr. Fenton said, "Is this the nurse who did this?" Bowyer replied, "Yes, I did it." Dr. Fenton gave information to the police and called at the house of Sir John Williams to consult him. Sir John Williams and Dr. Fenton went to attend Mrs. Nicholson. Bowyer was arrested upon the charge, and said she had no interest in the case and that she did it for a friend. Subsequently Wood was also arrested upon the charge. Mrs. Nicholson remained at Holles street until March 14, when, having sufficiently recovered from her illness, she was arrested upon the charge but was admitted to bail, her husband being bail for her. It was stated that Mrs. Nicholson's having gone to stay at Holles street was known to her husband, and a most affectionate letter written by her husband to her while she was there was read.
Evidence was given on the part of the prosecution, one of the witnesses called being Sir John Williams.
Mr. Poland, Q.C., Mr. Horace Avory, and Mr Geohegan then addressed the jury for the defence, contending that the defendants had not conspired together and that what Bowyer did was merely for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not Mrs. Nicholson was pregnant, and was not for the purpose of procuring the miscarriage of Mrs. Nicholson. Counsel denied emphatically that there had been any improper intimacy between Mrs. Nicholson and Wood. Mr. Poland said that ten years ago Mrs. Nicholson suffered terribly in her confinement, and was attended by many eminent medical men, and was ultimately attended by Dr. Fenton, who cured her. Mrs. Nicholson was told that if she had another such confinement it would place her at death's door. Mrs. Nicholson lived happily with her husband. In February Mrs. Nicholson, being uncertain whether she was pregnant or not, came up to London and stayed at Holles street, and called in Bowyer, who was a certificated midwife, and trained nurse, in order that Bowyer might ascertain whether she was pregnant or not. Mrs. Nicholson was a nervous, hysterical woman. What Bowyer did was for the purpose of ascertaining whether or not Mrs. Nicholson was pregnant, and was not for the purpose of procuring a miscarriage of Mrs. Nicholson.
Mr. Justice Collins, in summing up, observed that the prosecution had not produced any evidence pointing to an intrigue between Wood and Mrs. Nicholson.
The jury found all the defendants Not Guilty.
Mr. Bodkin said he should not offer any evidence upon it.
The jury found all the defendants Not Guilty, and they were discharged.