Sussex Tragedies and Romances. 221
take place until July, 1820, when the child must have been nearly 13 years of age. How long the proceedings lingered in Chancery — whence they issued by the writ of the Lord Chancellor, Lord Eldon (not the most expeditious of Judges!)—we do not know; but they were instigated at the instance of the Rev. Mr. Pritchard,who had married a younger sister of the Colonel, and who, by his death, became the only surviving representative of the Sergison and Warden families, that is, in case of no issue being left by the Colonel. The legitimacy, therefore, of Eliza Ann Harriet Sergison became a vital question to the family. Doubtless some suspicious rumours had got abroad, which had reached the ears of the Pritchards, and caused them to set enquiries on foot in Ireland. And these at length ripened to a point which justified legal steps, and brought about the trial in England. They must have been conducted with great ability, for Mrs. Sergison, the pseudo-mother of the girl who was made plaintiff in the case, went into Court with the greatest confidence, and her cause, as it really was, was conducted by the Solicitor-General of the day. Mrs. Sergison, described as being a very fine woman, swore positively that the child was hers by her late husband, Colonel Francis Sergison, and appealed to the testimony of several persons who were present at the birth ; naming one—Fitzsimmons—as the accoucheur. Several of these persons were called as witnesses, and swore, some to the pregnancy of Mrs. Sergison previous to the birth, and some to the actual birth of the child.
But, at the very time these witnesses and Mrs. Sergison were thus giving their evidence, the most conclusive proof was in the hands of the opposite party of its falsehood, and not a small portion of this proof was furnished by the acts of Mrs. Sergison herself.
Mr. Scarlett (the first Lord Abinger), who conducted the defence, began his speech by telling the Solicitor-General that he (the Solicitor-General) was not aware of the case which he supported and that the lady who had sworn so