Sussex Tragedies and Romances. 223
In all respects it was brought up and treated as the heiress of the Sergison family. Yet, as Mrs. Gibson told Mrs. Sergison in 1819, when the latter went to Dublin with her supposed daughter, in order to induce her (Mrs. Gibson) to go to America, at that very moment the real mother of the child was selling apples at the corner of the street in which they were!
In addition to this viva voce evidence, letters were produced from Mrs. Sergison to Nelly Cunningham (dead at the time of the trial) to show that Nelly was acquainted with the secret of the so-called Miss Sergison's birth and extraction, and that she received an annuity as the price of her silence. In fact, there could be no doubt of the fraud, and the jury had no difficulty, under the direction of the Lord Chief Justice, in coming to a verdict for the defendant, the effect of which was to establish the illegitimacy of Eliza Ann Harriet Sergison and to transfer the Sergison and Warden estates to the rightful heirs, the Pritchards, by whom the surname and arms of Sergison were forthwith assumed, and by whose descendants they are now borne.
What became of Mrs. Colonel Francis Sergison and the poor girl who was made the innocent instrument of her fraud, we are not able to say. In all probability, the former had a provision for life, as the widow of Colonel Sergison, and no further proceedings seem to have been taken against her, for perjury or fraud. The child of the Dublin applewoman was, it is to be hoped, either maintained by her or some provision made for it by the Sergison family. The escape of the latter from being made the victims of a cunningly-devised scheme was a narrow one; if successful, it would have been a singular, but perhaps not unique, mode of keeping up the line of descent of two ancient families ! As it is, the sang azule of the Wardens and Sergisons flows unsullied in the veins of its head, Captain Warden Sergison, of Cuckfield Park, and, seeing how numerous are the branches to the family-tree, there is little likelihood of its being exhausted.