The Lawsuits – the price of wealth

Lawsuits plagued Herman Thorn’s life from the moment he married into William Jauncey’s family fortune.

It began with the court case after his eldest son died unexpectedly before coming into his inhertance from old William. It seems that Herman acted quickly to secure the fortune that was going to be divided amongst other Jauncey relatives. This was done with some contention, especially the case of Elizabth Hait (Hoyt). He appears to have talked her into selling him her share for signifcantly less than it was worth. We’ll look at that case soon. Here’s a snippet:

More to come on this..

Following that there seemed to be endless litigation from his children as they attempted to secure the dowrys and payments promised to them. James Fenimore Cooper remarked:

Thorn has just lost a suit with Mr. Jauncey [I assume he means his son James Jauncey]. I believe he thought of setting up the defence that the children were not his sons, but was persuaded not to do it. Mrs. Thorn, however, talked very strongly against her daughter-in-law [Theresa?], who has now got $3500 [=$110,000 today] per annum for herself and children. The other son-in-law, de Ferussac, has also prevailed against his papa, and the whole family is broken up. Thorn himself is eyed jealously, and has more suits pending with Jauncey’s heirs.

From 1856 – 1863, Jane and Etienne de Pierres were in court against Herman for not providing the agreed dowry. I need to read it in more detail, but it seems he had to mortgage Elmwood (Apthorpe manor) to meet his commitments, and he died in 1859 before it settled.

At a later stage, he was in court with Clotilde Barili over Alfred’s will. She contested it and lost. At that stage her health was already quite poor, and she had remarried Carlos Scola.

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