Thomas Curran's Will




Further evidence was given yesterday in the
Probate Court, London, before the President,
Sir Samuel Evans and a special jury in the
remarkable suit relating to the will of the
late Mr. Thomas Curran, formerly Nationalist
M.P. for South Sligo.

A will of the deceased man, dated 30th June,
1905, propounded by his youngest son, Mr.
George Patrick, who with his sister Frances
Ann Curran, were the chief beneficiaries, was
disputed by the defendants, Mr. T. B.
Curran, formerly Nationalist M.P. for Kil-
kenny, and Mr. James Austin Curran, two
sons. Their allegation was that the testator
was not of sound mind, and Mr. T. B.
Curran alleged that the wull was obtained by
the undue influence of the testator's wife,
Mrs. Mary Curran, deceased.

Mrs. Marie Curran, wife of Mr. T. B.
Curran, was examined in support of the case
againast the will. She was on friendly terms
with the testator in Australia. During that
period from 1900 to 1902, Mr. Curran, the
testator, drank heavily. With regard to the
allegation of extravagance against her, and
her wearing sable furs, witness said they were
lent to her for the purposes of a reception by
some rich friends in Australia. She and her
husband did not live in an extravagent
fashion. They had rooms in Australia. They
first took a cottage, but Mrs. Curran, senior,
said that that must be given up. Mrs.
Curran did not say anything to her about
embracing the Catholic faith.

Cross-examined by Mr. Hume Williams,
K.C. (for plaintiff), witness said she had been
on the stage six or seven years before her

Acting chiefly in pantomine? Oh, no. I
took leading parts in comedies, dramas, and
Shakespearean plays.

In the provinces? No.

In London? Not in London. I am Austra-
lian. I had engagements there

Were you acting as the "Principal Boy"
in pantomime at the time of the marriage?

Mr. Hume Williams - Things were not
happy between you and your mother-in-law
and father-in-law?

Witness - They were beautiful between me
and my mother-in-law.

Mr. Dominick Augustin Curran, fourth son
of the testator, said he assisted his father in
a wine and spirit business which he had in
Sydney, and he used to take a number of
drinks in the morning and afternoon at his
office, and every other day he took two bottles
of whickey home. When his wife was present
he seemed to quail before her.

Witness said his mother was always bitter
against all her sons when they were children.
The mother incited the other brothers to call
Tom by the name of a girl who lived opposite
to irritate him. Testator had a house at
Derryfead1 worth 300, and he put it up for
sale in 1904. He announced that it would be
the "biggest sales ever held in Co. Donegal."
He said he expected at least 100 priests to
attend, and that he wanted men to hold their
horses. He told a passing peasant that he
would sell his gun, and he added, "Now is
the time to purchase guns to defend yourself
against the coming invasion of the Japanese."
Nobody except the auctioneers and the witness
atrended the sale, and the house remianed un-
sold. At that time he was drinking a bottle
of whiskey a day. He took a case of whiskey
there with him. His mind at the time was
very muddled, and his memory was bad. He
used to get uyp at three o'clcok in the morning
and "have his drop," and would then prome-
nade in front of the house.

Sir George Savage, an expert in mental dis-
eases, said that he examined the testator in
1910, and certified him insane. He saw him
at Barnes, and he did not know whether he
was at Barnes or in Ireland. He could not
tell his name. He was suffering from pro-
gressive mental decay, associated with alco-
holic excesses. Judging from the description
given of his condition in 1905 by Dr. Roberts,
and the result of his own examination, he
should say that deceased was of unsound mind
in 1905.

This concluded the case for Mr. T. B.

The other defendant, Mr. James Austin
Curran, was then called and examined by Mr.
Barnard, K.C., in support of the defence he
had put in. On one occasion witness's mother
said that his father did not go out enough,
and witness said it was very important he
should go out. When he had finished, his
father got up solemnly, and touched him on
the back and said - "Mr. Speaker - Sir, I have
listened with interest to the remarks of the
honourable gentleman who has just sat down,
and whilst I appreciate the sagacity and
prudence of his remarks, I have been for years
the victim of his instinct of domesticity."

Cross-examined, witness said the testator
appeared to be sober on that occasion. He
remarked nothing wrong in his father in 1902.

Miss Frances Curran, recalled, said there
was no truth in the statement that her father
was not able to write his business letters. It
was not true that her mother poisoned the
testator's mind against them. When Mr. T. B.
Curran and his wife called witness declined
to see her, but she said she did not say her mother
would kill her if she did not come down.

This concluded the evidence, and counsel
addressed the jury

1 Derryfad, Creeslough, Co. Donegal. Mary Curran Sr. was formerly Mary Coll, daughter of Dominick and Ellen Coll of Derryfad. She went to Sydney, N.S.W. in 1864 on one of the Donegal Relief Fund Ships as a sponsored passenger (sponsored by her sister Susan).

Source: Irish Times Thursday July 8th, Page 3

Transcribed: 20/03/2008