ON THIS DAY – January 2, 1898


The Melbourne ‘Argus’ of last week reports a singular case of mistaken identity. Henry Hudson was brought up before Mr. Nicholson, P.M., at the District Court on a maintenance summons in respect of the child of Fanny Cooper, of whom it was alleged he was the father.

Mr. Kane described how impropriety had taken place between the parties in March, 1889, the result being the child, which was born on January 2, 1890. A fortnight later Miss Cooper called on the defendant, whom she knew, and whom she now summoned as George Carter and, after meeting with a brutal reception, caused a warrant to be issued for his arrest. It was never executed, and the man disappeared from Melbourne, nothing being seen of him until about 12 months ago, when the prosecutrix encountered him in the Exhibition gardens. They spoke, and renewed their previous intimacy. The defence, Mr. Barrett had very fairly told him, would be that the defendant was at the time serving a sentence in Sydney, and if that were so, he could not be the father of the child.

The complainant then gave evidence in accordance with the opening statement. She had no doubt whatever about the identity of the defendant. He was the father of her child. Mr. Barrett: When you gave the description to the police, did you say he had black curly hair? Witness: Yes; he’s cut it off. A New South Wales criminal album was then handed up to the witness, and she pronounced the photo to be not that of the defendant. Mr. Barrett: But if we bring witnesses who were serving sentences with him?  Witness: I don’t care; he’s the father of my child.

Mrs. Annie Heron said that in March, 1889, she remembered complainant and a young man calling at her house in Abbotsford subsequent to the birth of Miss Cooper’s child she again saw the man, and believed the defendant in court to be the same man. The police photo was then shown, and the witness unhesitatingly pronounced it to be identical with the man she saw in 1889. Mr. Barrett: That will show you how women will swear. Detective Deyerall described the arrest of the defendant. He was satisfied that he was the same man as shown on the prison photo. Defendant was here, called up to the bench by Mr. Nicholson and closely scrutinised, his appearance being compared with the descriptions in the Police Album and the Police Gazette of New South Wales, which showed his discharge from gaol.

Defendant, then stated that on November 22, 1888,  Judge M’Farlane  sentenced him to four years’ penal servitude for receiving. He received a sunstroke in gaol, and as a result got a remission of sentence, being released in either March or April of 1891. He was not in Melbourne in his life until three years ago,and it was about about eight months since the complainant commenced following him about and making herself  a nuisance. He had no twin brother, and the only brother he had was very much younger.

The bench decided that further evidence was unnecessary, and dismissed the case, with £1 1s. costs. The complainant left the court still expressing her, confidence in the identity of the defendant.