Amusing Divorce Evidence


(The Dundee Courier, November 25, 1909)

A divorce action in which much amusing evidence was given was tried yesterday by Lord Salvesen in the Court of Session.

It was at the instance of Rose Edith Kelly or Skerrett or Crowley, The Vicarage, Camberwell, London, against Alister Macgregor Crowley, formerly Edward Alexander Crowley of Boleskine, Foyers, Inverness-shire.

The pursuer (35) said she was the daughter of the Rev. F. F. Kelly, vicar of Camberwell, London, and was married in 1897 to Captain F. T. Skerrett, who died two years later. In 1902 she was staying in Paris with her brother, Mr Gerald F. Kelly, an artist, and there she made the acquaintance of the defender.

Was he then calling himself Alister Crowley?

No. He was then Count Skellett.


She knew, however, that his real name was Alexander Edward Crowley. Later he called himself Macgregor in order to identify himself with Scotland. In July, 1903, she went to Strathpeffer, and again met the defender. He then called himself Alister Croetlent Macgregor. She knew he bought Boleskine before 1900, and that his home was there. It was the only house he ever had. He was much attached to Scotland, and tried to identify himself with it as much as possible. He wore the kilt and all that sort of thing.

He gave out that he was a Scotsman. At Strathpeffer he asked her to marry him, and she consented. On Aug. 12. 1903, they were married in the Scottish fashion, and the marriage was registered in the usual way. In the marriage certificate he gave his name as Macgregor, but his father’s name was given as Edward Crowley. They went abroad for the honeymoon, and subsequently resided at Boleskine. Shortly after the marriage defender assumed the title of Lord Boleskine, and said that he did so because people in Scotland took the name of their estates. The defender was a bit eccentric.


In June, 1904, the first child was born, but died in infancy. For a year they travelled in the East, and in 1906 were in Hong Kong. He left her to return home by America, telling her to go straight back to England to be confined. She was annoyed at the way he left her. The child was born in her father’s house in September, 1906. Parties then lived at Chislehurst for two years, and in March, 1908, went to Warwick Road, Earl’s Court, where the house was taken in her name. Her husband was becoming impecunious. She left him there on July 21 last. He had bruised her, and she consulted her solicitor about his conduct. On August 5 she learned from the charwoman that the defender had had a woman in the house the night before. Some time before that the defender had asked her to take care of a child for one of his friends.


She thought it was his friend’s child, but accidentally opening a letter, she learned that the mother was a Miss Zwee, and witness called on her and learned that the defender was the father of the child, and witness brought her action.

In reply to the Judge, witness said her father was Irish, and she was born in England. Miss Zwee had been employed at Burlington Arcade. The defender was so fearfully interested in the child that he asked her to go to Scotland with it, and take her own also, but she did not go. When she taxed the defender the latter said that the letter referred to his friend. When she learned the truth she asked the friend why he did not tell her.

Mrs Dauby, the charwoman, said that the defender about midnight on August 4 rang for two cups of tea, which witness took to the library. There she saw a short dark woman, gaily dressed, and wearing a lot of jewelry. Witness heard a lot of laughter during the night, and in the morning took up two cups of tea to the defender and his companion, who were in bed together.

Charles Randall, a chauffeur, London, said that Miss Zwee had boarded with him and his wife. The defender frequently visited her, and promised to pay her board, but had failed to do so.

His Lordship, looking at defender’s photograph, remarked that he looked as if he belonged to the stage.

Counsel—Yes; he is rather a literary character, and affects the artistic.


Gerald Festus Kelly, artist, said that he became acquainted with defender at Cambridge in 1897. In 1900 witness went to study art in Paris, and defender, after a trip round the world, stayed at Paris with witness. Defender was very proud of having Scottish blood in his veins, as he thought, and bought Boleskine to be his permanent home. He had curious ideas of how to fit up a house. He put mirrors round a room and called it a temple He invented a new kind of religion. He was a Cabalist, and studied ancient manuscripts. Writing to witness from abroad, he sometimes signed himself Macgregor, and sometimes Crowley. He changed his name from Alexander to Alister because it was Scottish. Defender got some mark of distinction from an Indian chief, and thereupon called himself Lord Boleskine. There was a lot of land named Boleskine, but it was mostly perpendicular. (Laughter.)


Defender appeared in complete Highland costume, and the Macgregor tartan was very bright (Laughter.)

The Judge—Personally, I never have been able to get up any admiration for the Macgregor tartan from an artistic point of view. Its associations, of course, are very romantic.

Defender’s father, continued witness, was a Plymouth Brother. He had lots of money, but was stupid where money was concerned.

His Lordship said he thought he might assume that defender’s domicile was Scottish, whatever it was originally. He granted decree, with custody of the child, and £52 a year ailment for the child.


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