Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Hugh Chaffey Bennett the Younger

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA  Tue 21 Apr 1896 - Page 6  OUR ANGLO-COLONIAL LETTER.

A new version of the boy and girl love idyll, of which novelists are so fond, was concluded at the Royal Courts of Justice last Monday, when Mr. Hugh C. Bennett, well known in Australia as the third officer of the Orient, was sued for breach of promise by Miss Nora Banbury, a Cornish farmer's daughter.

Defendant pleaded guilty to a little philandering with Miss Nora, but said that their engagement was provisional on his ever being able to support a wife. He had not the means to marry now, and he recognised small prospects of his ever possessing them.

Hugh and Nora both come from the same village in Cornwall. They loved each other as children and clung to one another as he became a tall stripling and she a dainty maiden. Then Hugh's father died and the widow Bennett moved to Hastings where she ran a smart boarding-house and sent her boy to sea.  After, no doubt, many adventures, Master Bennett joined the Orient Company's employ and became a sumptuously attired officer, brass bound and beloved by lady passengers. But though

Exposed to sad temptations
At Australian ports and stations

Hugh remained a Cornishman.  And his eart was true to Poll or rather Nora, it being agreed that as soon as he obtained his master's certificate, the marriage should take place. The plaintiff, said the counsel, received an engagement ring from the defendant, who also wrote a letter in which the following words occurred:—"lt will be a happy day, darling, when I have to put the other on."

The defendant in February, 1889, wrote to the plaintiff that she was the "star of his life," and added, " It seems too good to be true that you really love me." - Defendant in a further letter wrote,

"Dearest Norah—Some day, dearest, if all goes well, you and I will go to the church together. What a happy day that will be when Captain and Mrs. Bennett come out of the porch together."

Writing from Australia, on September 9th 1890, the plaintiff's birthday, the defendant said that he and the third mate had drank the plaintiff's health in a glass of port. These lines followed: —

Oh. for a touch at my darling's hand
Tie sound of her voice far away;
For she's at home in her own dear land,
And I far out at sea.


"Very much at sea," murmured the defendant's counsel. Plaintiffs counsel went on that on another occasion he wrote —

I think of all thou art to me,
I think of what you yet may be;
My heart is full of love for thee.
For ever and for ever.

The plaintiff in February, 1893, became aggrieved at some complaints of a jealous nature made by the defendant, and she wrote to him while he was in Australia, breaking off the engagement and on the return of the defendant to England everything was forgotten and forgiven. In 1894 the plaintiff began to prepare her trousseau, but on the return of the defendant in October of that year he wholly neglected her, and finally he in 1895 broke off the engagement altogether.

Miss Banbury, called in support of her counsel's statement, proved to be a buxom rustic of sweet-seven-and-twenty, but looking more. I should say that during the ten years of the engagement she had not so much worn away with anxiety like "Mariana in the Moated Grange" as filled out with buttermilk.

That, however, would be equally painful to both Hugh and his mother, who have both come on in the world since leaving the Cornish village and become very genteel.

Miss Banbury refused to agree that £7.10s. a month was a small income to marry on. She would marry Hugh on anything.

"I don't doubt it, madam," snapped the cross-examining counsel.  Mr. Bennett swore that when as fourth officer of the Ormuz he was in receipt of £6.10s. a month that amount was not sufficient to meet his expenses without help from his mother.  He could meet his expenses on £7.10s. a month.  He was 30 years of age and there was no reasonable probability of his obtaining command of a ship for many years. He had saved only a few pounds, which had long since been spent.

He was paid £160 for bringing a ship home as captain [The Oratova?] and had only acted in that capacity on that one occasion, as when the vessel arrived here his services were no longer required.

He found that bis finances were getting worse and worse and that there was no sign of improvement, and he therefore wrote the letter breaking off the engagement for that reason, although he did not then care less for her. His one reason was that it was a hopeless affair.

After the issue of the writ he wrote stating that if the plaintiff did not mind waiting till he was in a position to marry, he would continue the engagement.  He could not posiblv marry on £70 a year. In 1894 he did write to the plaintiff saying that he should - look forward to October or November, when she would be his. He then had hoped that bis mother would extend help to them, but after the plaintiff wrote to break off the engagement his mother would not do so. He ought to have said that he had expectations from his aunts, but they had but little to leave.

Re-exammed—His aunts enjoyed very good health. (Laughter.)

The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff with £150 damages.  Judgement according..

Mr. Bennett has revised his reading of "For . ever and for ever." He now trills mournfully:—

I think of all I've paid for thee
Where can I raise the £. s. d. ?
Off to Coolgarlie I must flee
For ever and for ever.

(Coolgardie is the original site of Western Australia's goldrush of the 1890s. It is 558 kilometres east of the state capital, Perth.)