In 1833, two English women — a Mrs. Emma Lush (wife to a groom employed by the Royal Family) and Mrs. Sarah Wolfe (a servant in a distinguished family) — decided to go on a shopping excursion. After making several purchases, they fell into the company of two strangers who prevailed upon them to accompany them for drinks. Despite not knowing the men — John Clack and a man named Faulkener — Mrs. Lush and Mrs. Wolfe decided to have some enjoyment and went with the men.
The group first went to a public house in Scotland Yard and then to another public house on Charles Street, Westminster. “In the plentitude of their enjoyment, and not having … fear of their husbands,” Mrs. Lush and Mrs. Wolfe continued to drink with Messrs. Clack and Faulkener. Eventually, hiccups signaled that the “fair ones” had more than enough liquor. It was about the same time that Mr. Faulkener emboldened by drink, “insinuated his ‘beef steak’ hand into the delicate one … of the delightful creature, Mrs. Lush.”
Almost immediately after taking Mrs. Lush’s hand, however, Mr. Faulkener’s eyes fell upon Mrs. Lush’s wedding ring, and he said, “Surely that is not gold?”
“Oh, indeed it is,” simpered Mrs. Lush, “and my husband gave half a guinea for it.”
“But I am in the jewellery business,” retorted Mr. Faulkener, “and I would not give three-pence for it; indeed, so certain am I that it is not gold, that I would not mind laying a bet upon the subject.”
About this time Mr. Clack joined in saying, “If that’s what you mean … I’ll wager you a pot of half-and-half that it is gold.”
With bet made, Mrs. Lush took off her wedding ring and handed it over to Mr. Faulkener. He examined it closely and then handed it Mr. Clack, who likewise examined it. Mr. Clack then asked permission from Mrs. Lush to go to a nearby jeweler to have the ring tested so that a winner could be determined. Unfortunately, for Mrs. Lush “he forgot to return.”
When Mr. Clack did not return, the ladies “kicked up a row,” insinuated that Mr. Clack and Mr. Faulkener were in cahoots, and they caused such a ruckus the police intervened. It also resulted in Mr. Faulkener being hauled off to the police station “on the charge of being accessary [sic] to stealing the gold ring.”
Mr. Faulkener was incarcerated over night, but at morning’s light, Mr. Faulkener was released with the promise that he would help the police find Mr. Clack. Whether or not Mr. Faulkener kept his promise is unclear. However, Mr. Clack was soon apprehended and brought to the police station where he claimed he had been drunk and stated he remembered nothing about the ring or the bet.
Unfortunately, for Mr. Clack, when the case went to trial, a pawnbroker appeared. His name was Folknard, and he testified Mr. Clack told him his wife bought the ring at Folknard’s pawn shop. Folknard also testified Mr. Clack initially wanted to sell the ring but then agreed to pawn it, and, so, Folknard gave Mr. Clack 5s. 6d. for the ring.
As it was obvious that Mr. Clack had illegally pawned the ring, the Magistrate ordered Mr. Clack “to pay a penalty of 40s … and also 5s. 6d. being the amount for which [the ring] … had been pawned.” Further, Mr. Clack was told that if he could not pay the penalty and the amount of the pawn, he would be sentenced to a month in jail. As Mr. Clack did not have the money, he was taken to jail.
The Magistrate then turned his focus on Mrs. Lush. He asked her if her husband knew what had taken place. She replied that her husband was abroad and knew nothing. She then “applied for restoration of the ring,” and the Magistrate said he would not order Folknard to give it to her unless she paid Folknard the 5s. 6d.
But the Magistrate was not quite finished. He then lectured “Mrs. Lush upon the immorality of her conduct, and in conclusion observed, that if married women would go into strange men’s company, they must suffer the consequences.” Apparently, she did, as she did not have enough money to pay the pawn and lost the ring.
- “Doings of Married Women,” in The Bell’s New Weekly Messenger, 15 December 1833
- “Married Ladies,” in Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 15 December 1833
- “Queen-Square,” in Morning Chronicle, Thursday 12 December 1833
- “Queen-Square,” in Morning Post, Thursday 12 December 1833