Shephard v. the Prince of Capua
Mr. Thomas was counsel for the plaintiff, and Mr. C. Phillips for the defendant.
Mr. Thomas stated the case, and said the plaintiff, Henry Shephard, was a person in a very humble station of life, being hostler at the Royal Hotel, Richmond, kept by Mr. Topham, and the defendant was his Royal Highness Carlo Ferdinande Borbone, Prince of Capua. The action was brought to recover the sum of 15l. 2s. 6d., for the use and occupation of a certain apartment, and for work and labour and services rendered by the plaintiff to the defendant at his request, to which his Royal Highness had pleaded - first, that he never was indebted, and secondly that he had paid the amount. In the month of August, 1838, his Royal Highness went to live at the Royal Hotel, Richmond, and having a great many horses there, which could not be taken care of by Mr. Topham or by his servant, the plaintiff, his Royal Highness requested Shephard that he would employ a sufficient number of men to look after them, and take a room for one of his servants, the coachman, so that he might be constantly on the spot, and he would pay him for doing so. The plaintiff did as he was desired by the Prince, and hired certain persons as assistants or helpers, whom he had paid for their services out of his own pocket. He understood the defence to be set up was, that his Royal Highness had paid Mr. Topham, who was to be called to prove the fact, but the sum claimed by the plaintiff never had been paid by the Prince, or charged for by Mr. Topham, as the services rendered by Shephard were special, and never could have been done by Mr. Topham or his regular servants. He should call witnesses before them to prove his case, and had no doubt of receiving their verdict in favour of his client.
William Henry Tilbury called. -
In the month of August, 1838, was assisting the plaintiff in the stables at the Royal Hotel, Richmond. The prince had 16 horses there, and requested the plaintiff to attend to them wholly and truly, and to get sufficient helpers, and he (the Prince) would pay the plaintiff for doing so. Plaintiff employed witness from the 28th of August till the 29th of October, to look after the Prince's horses, and paid him 15s. a week for doing so. John Morris was also employed to assist Shephard and paid by him.
Cross-examined. - The Prince had four gooms of his own. Mr. Topham had only one hostler, the plaintiff.
William Morris called and proved that he was employed by the plaintiff as a helper in the stables to the Prince's horses, and paid by him at 15s. per week. The Prince had 16 horses there and four grooms. There were not grooms enough to look after the horses, and it was absolutely necessary for Shephard to have other assistance.
There are only 16 stalls in the stables.
George Robinson was coachman to the Prince at Richmond. His Royal Highness had 16 horses there and five grooms, three English and two Neapolitan. He lodged in plaintiff's house. When the Prince left Richmond, witness told him his lodging was not paid for. His Royal Highness said he would see it paid.
Mr. Phillips addressed the jury, and said that as to one part of the plaintiff's claim, the 2l. 10s. for the rent of the coachman's apartment, he had a very satisfactory answer - the receipt of the plaintiff himself in his own handwriting. This would show the honesty of the plaintiff's case. He admitted the difficulty he was under in denying the statement of Tilbury, it being sworn there were only himself, the plaintiff, and the defendant present. The real circumstances were, that in the month of August, 1838, the Prince, with his lady and their son, the young Prince, went to stay at the Royal Hotel, Richmond, and whilst there he kept sixteen horses and four grooms, besides a coachman. Being a foreigner, and not very well versed in the English language, the Prince employed his brother-in-law, Mr. Smith, to enter into an arrangement with Mr. Topham for the keep of his horses; and he should be enabled to prove by the evidence of that gentleman that the sum to be paid for their stabling and all incidental charges was to be one guinea per week for each horse, which sum his Royal Highness had paid, as appeared by Mr. Topham's bills and receipts then in his (the learned counsel's) hand. The Prince had honourably discharged every claim against him, which was more than he (Mr. Phillips) could say of some other Royal personages. He held in his hand Mr. Topham's bills and receipts for three several sums of 351l., 118l. 7s. 2d., and 70l. odd; and he (the learned counsel) would submit with the greatest confidence not only the improbability of his Royal Highness allowing as paltry a claim, if just, to remain unsettled, but also of his Royal client entering into any agreement with the hostler for the performance of that which his master had contracted to do.
Mr. Henry Smith, the brother of the Princess of Capua, was then called to prove the agreement with Mr. Topham.
Mr. Thomas objected that a contract with Topham did not bind the plaintiff, and that the proposed evidence could not be received.
The Under Sheriff allowed the objection.
The plaintiff's receipt for 2l. 10s. for the rent of the coachman's room was then put in, and the signature of the plaintiff proved, after some discusion between the learned counsels.
The Under Sheriff summed up, and said the only question for the jury was, had the defendant entered into the agreement with the plaintiff which had been alleged, and if so, the plaintiff was entitled to recover.
The Jury found for the plaintiff, damages 13l. 12s. 6d., being the amount claimed less the 2l. 10s.
George Topham - Royal Hotel, Richmond - Twickenham Park - Surrey
Illustrations of the Royal Hotel; maps, advertisements
Wikipedia: Charles Ferdinand, Prince of Capua (1811-1862)
Ran away to Gretna Green to marry an Irish rose