Thomas Curran's Will

REMARKABLE PROBATE
SUIT.

FORMER IRISH M.P.'S WILL.

Yesterday, in the Probate Court, Lomdon,
before the President, Sir Samuel Evans, and
a special jury, the case of Curran v. Curran
and another came on for hearing. The suit
had reference to the testamentary dispositions
of the later Mr. Thomas Curran, formerly M.P.
for Sligo, who died on the 13th August 1913.
The plaintiff, Mr. George Patrick Curran, a
son of the testator set up a will of 30th June,
1905. This was contested by Mr Thomas
Bartholomew Curran and Mr. James Austin
Curran, two sons of the deceased man. They
both alleged that the testator was not of sound
mind or testamentary capaity, and the
former alleged that the will was obtained by
the undue influence of the wife of the deceased
man now dead.

Mr. Hume Williams, K.C. opening the case
for the plaintiff, explained that by the will in
question both the defendants were excluded
from benefit. Mrs. Curran, the widow, was
originally the plaintiff, but she had died, and
Mr. George Patrick Curran was now the plain-
tiff. The late Mr. Curran was married in
1866 to his wife in Sydney. They were a
devoted couple. They had eight children. Mr.
Thomas B. Curran, the defendant, was a mem-
ber of the English Bar and of the New South
Wales Bar, and was a Nationalist M.P. from
1892 to 1900. There were now alive six
children, two of whom were disputing the
will. The late Mr. Curran was greatly in-
terested in politics. He was an ardent Irish
Nationalist, and his sympathies were bound up
with the Nationalist cause in Ireland. In
1892 he advanced a sum of 5,000 to the Irish
Party, which the eldest son said was a gift
and not a loan, and that his mother, through
improper influence, induced the testator to
withdraw it in 1892. Mr. T. B. Curran was
an undergraduate at Oxford, and in 1893 both
he and his father were offered seats in Parlia-
ment as Nationalist members, which they ac-
cepted, returning to England to take up the
post. The testator at Port Said received a
telegram announcing that his son had got
married while he was an undergraduate at
Oxford. The testator was deeply hurt when
he found that the marriage had taken place
without his consent, and particularly when he
found the lady whom the son had married was
an actress, then performing at a theatre in
Manchester. That began the estrangement
between father and son. Testator took a
house in Cambridge Gardens, Notting Hill.
Both father and son were in Parliament, and
their relations did not appear to have been
happy. In 1900 testator resigned his seat
in Parliament and went back to Sydney. He
continued to asist his son, but he complained
of his extravagance, which resulted in his bank-
ruptcy, a fact that deeply grieved the father.
In 1902 the late Mr. Curran made his first
will, leaving a bequest to the Archbishop of
Sydney, the income of his property to his
wife, and then one-third to his son James
Austin Curran on certain coinditions, one of
which was that he should not marry without
his father's consent. In June he executed a
codicil, leaving 100 to his son, Thomas Bar-
tholomew Curran. The will and codicil were
both executed in Sydney in June 1902.
Testator and his wife came back to England
in 1905. He heard that his son James Austin
Curran, got married, also without his father's
consent, and that did not appear to have
pleased him, because the son had apparently
married a lady in humble circumstances and
without fortune. By this time testator had
retired from business and left an agent in
Australia to look after his affairs
there, Sir William Manning. In 1905, when
the last will was executed, testator went over
to Dublin, and there transacted businesss with
perfect clearness and mental capacity. In
June he gave instructions for a codicil, and
consulted Mr. Roberts, a solicitor, on the
matter. It was decided, however, that a new
will should be made which was the will in
question. At that time the testator had such
strong will-power that he actually would not
accept some of Mr. Robert's legal pharseology. (sic)
By the will in question, counsel said, the
testator left his wife the income of the pro-
perty for life, 2,000 to the son, George
Patrick, and he and the daughter were left
an interest in the residuary estate. The
testator added the clause:-

That, failing the interest of his son and daughter
their shares were to go to the Pope for missionary
purposes in Borneo and other islands in the South
Pacific Ocean, where missionaries were already
established.

Counsel said that the testator practically
divided the estate, subject to certain bequests,
between Frances Ann Curran, the daughter,
and the son, George Curran. The value of
the estate originally, said counsel, was
40,000 or 50,000, but what the value might
be now was difficult to say. It might pro-
bably be only half that amount. With the
concoction of that will Mrs. Curran, the wife,
had nothing to do. Some time in 1906 or
1907 the deceased man began to show signs
of failing health, and his memory became de-
fective. Counsel thought alcohol had some-
time (sic) to do with it, but the testator was not
a drunkard. In 1908 he had an attack and
became violent and showed signs of coming
insanity. He was taken to a home at Wrot-
ham, Kent, but the doctors there refused to
certify him as insane. His condition got
worse; in 1910 he became dangerous to himself
and to others, and he was certified insane and
went into a private home at Barnes, where
he died in August, 1913.

Counsel thought the jury, after hearing the
evidence, would have very little doubt in
coming to the conclusion that the testator in
1905 was quite competent to execute a will.

Mr. C. E. Roberts, solicitor, of Notting
Hill, gave evidence to prove the instructions
for the will and its execution. During his
evidence it was stated that the deceased was
73 years old when he died.

The case was adjourned.

Source: Irish Times Friday July 2nd, 1915. Page 4


Transcribed: 20/03/2008

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