Thomas Curran's Will


The suit affecting the testamentary dis-
positions of the late Mr. Thomas Curran,
formerly Nationalist M.P. for Sligo, again
came before the President, Sir Samuel Evans,
and a special jury on Tuesday in the Pro-
bate Court, London.

The plaintiff, Mr. George Patrick Curran,
younger son of the testator, propounded a
will dated 30th June, 1905, under which he
and his sister, Frances Ann Curran, mainly
benifited. The defendants, Mr. Thomas
Bartholomew Curran (the eldest son), also
formerly an Irish Nationalist M.P., and Mr.
James Austin Curran, another son, who were
both passed over in the will, opposed it,
alleging, among other things, that the testa-
tor was not of sound mind, and that the will
was obtained by the undue influence of his
wife, Mrs. Mary Curran, now deceased.

The case for the defendants was opened on


Mr. David, K.C. representing the defend-
ant (M. T. B. Curran), read the evidence
taken on commission of the Rev. James
Joseph O'Brien, Rector of St. John's College,
Sydney University. The witness said he knew
the Currans intimately up to the time Mr.
Curran left Sydney in 1902, and saw them
two or three times a week. On one occasion
he was dining with them at Glebe Point, and
he noticed that the relations between Mr.
Curran and his wife seemed strained. "Mr.
Curran and I." said witness, "were having
a smoke in the dining room. Mrs. Curran
came in in a most excited manner, and abused
Mr. Curran for the way he had brought up
his eldest son, pampering him in every way,
saying that it led finally to his marrying a
tight-rope dancer. She abused him grossly,
and he cast down his head and never
answered a word, staring at the floor. She
then turned to me, and said, 'I ask you, Dr.
O'Brien, is not what I have said true, and
has he not made a frightful mess?' I said,
'Mrs. Curran, it's a rule of my life never to
interfere in family matters, but as you ask
me privately in the presence of your husband,
I will tell you you are a most unnatural mother,
and sadly wanting in the sterling qualities of
a wife.' I then added, 'Your unfortunate hus-
band is overwhelmed with grief, and instead
of acting as a faithful wife, you are plunging
him to despair.' She then left the room in a
violent manner."


Witness said that on an occasion when he
and Mr. Curran were dining at the Trocadero,
he asked Mr. Curran why Tom, the son, did
not join them at the office. Mr, Curran
said - "If Tom was seen walking with us it
would be known to Mrs. Curran in half-an-
hour, as she has spies watching us, and his
life would be a misery." Witness was pre-
sent when they were leaving by boat. Mrs.
Curran was there, and refused to speak to
Tom. "She not only refused to speak to
him," said witness, "but even to look at
him, and so marked was it, and seeing it at-
tracted the attention on many, I advised
Tom to take leave of his father and leave
the boat."

"Would you say that Mr. Curran was a
heavy drinker?" winess was asked, and his
reply was - "I never saw him drink more
than two glasses of whiskey. but he told me
several times he could and did drink a
bottle of whiskey a day without its affecting
him. He gave me the impression in fact that
he did drink a bottle of whiskey a day. But
I regarded it as an empty boast."


Cross-examined, the witness said that Mr.
Curran undoubtedly regarded Tom's marriage
as a calamity. He expected Tom to build
up the great house of Curran. That was the
idea in the man's head. He was a most
loving father as regarded Tom.

Asked if Mr. Curran was a strong-minded
man, witness replied, "Yes, in dealing with
the public generally, and with his fellow-man
he seemed determined and strong-minded, but
in his home he was the biggest coward I ever

In re-examination, witness said that Tom
Curran's wife stuck to him through thick and


Mr. Thomas Bartholomew Curran, one of
the defendants, examined by Mr. Settle, was
the next witness. He said he was the eldest
son of the late Mr. Curran. he related
how when he came over to England
to study at the Oxford University, his
father said to him, "Your mother is
continualky finding fault with you, and she
can give me nothing tangible against you.
For peace sake I think it best for you to go
to England to complete your education." He
promised him 500 per annum while he was
at the University, and 300 income after-
wards. "From my earliest recollections," said
witness, "from the time I was eight years of
age, my mother always evinced a stronfg dis-
like for me." Witness described how while
he was still at Oxford he and his father were
invited to become candidates for Parliament.
Witness was elected for Kilkeny, and his
father for South Sligo.

Questioned regarding his marriage, witness
said he married Miss Marie Brooke in January,
1893. She was at that time an actress, and
taking a leading part at the Princes' Theatre,
Manchester. His father was at first annoyed
at the marriage, but he absoilutely overcame
that annoyance and was reconcilded. After
his father's election for South Sligo witness
saw him in the House of Commons, as as
witness was avoiding him testator turned to
him and said- "Tom, Tom, come back. Do
not go away. come and have comething to
drink." He afterwards came to see him at
his residence, and was extremely cordial with
witness's wife. One one occasion his father
told him not to have anything to do with
him (witness). "Although," said witness,
"I could see he was trying to make great
efforts to be nice his mind was poisoned against
me by my mother. On another occasion when
he met his father he said- "Your mother is
terrible." Witness described how, when
taking home some brandy to his house in
Sydney in witness's brief bag, the testator
was careful to see that there was no name on
it, saying- "If I take it home with your name
on it God help me." On another occasion his
father said to him- "Your mother is an ex-
traordinary woman. She has not a good word
for you. She wants me to make you a
pauper and your wife a pauper."

Witness denied that there had been ex-
travagence on his part or on the part of his
wife. On marrying him his wife gave up all
her engagements on the stage.

In the course of his examination the wit-
ness explained that his father doid not keepo up
the allowance which he poromised him, and
eventually he was made bankruot in Australia.


Dr. H. T. Hamilton said that he attended
testator in 1910, and he was then suffering
from chronic alcoholic dementia, which must
have been coming on for a great number of
years, and in witness's opinion deceased man's
mind must have been affected in 1905. "He
always called me Lord Morley," said witness.

The case was adjourned

Source: Irish Times Wednesday July 7th, Page 9 and Saturday July 10th, 1915. Page 3

Transcribed: 12/03/2008