HE was the physician who did not mend a heart but broke it.

"All I want now for my happiness is my sweet Jeannie," Thomas Johnstone rhapsodised after their first meeting when he had attended her fever ridden mother.

"Oh but I seriously feel tor the want of my Jeannie when I see others enjoying the sweets of their better halves. Oh my sweet Jeannie it was my chief desire even before the bathing season set in to have the pleasure your society here."

Symbolic of the poetical letters whereby Thomas Johnstone entranced Jean Harvey.

He was the surgeon on Her Majesty's ship 'Spartan' - the second warship to bear that name and a six-rate, 26 gun ship - and she a milliner and dress maker who had left her native Ireland to follow the American dream. But so smitten was she, that she resolved to give up her flourishing business and return home.

"He had conceived a passion and attachment for her," barrister Edward Cockburn was to reflect of their deepening relationship.

But sadly it was not only Harvey's mother who died - so did their love affair.

"There was a falling off in his attentions and he paid them to another young woman."

Briefly their affair was rekindled, then ended as abruptly.

'The last links are broken which bound them to me And the words thou has spoken have rendered me free That bright glance misleading on others my shine Those eyes smiled unheeding when tears burst from mine If my love was deemed boldness, that error is o'er I have witnessed thy coldness and prize thee no more Oh! I have no loved lightly, I'll think on thee yet and pray for thee nightly till life's sun has set.'

Yet strangely the letters continued to flow, sprinkled with 'loves', 'doves' and 'delights' - however lying alongside depressing expressions of loving her too well, exemplified by his last letter to her as he prepared to leave for Canada.

'The Lord has seen that we worshipped and idolised each other and neglected him; therefore it seems to be his will that we should be parted. How often does God snatch away the darling of our hearts, our affections too much on the subject of our love.

'If it had been wedlock, how Jeannie would have shone in her own house, for who, I ask, could have shown herself so clever and so careful. But, alas, alas, it seems not to be, at least with Tommy. Ah, farewell, farewell. Adieu, adieu, my beloved, you will perceive these letters are in mourning.'

Mystifying, the correspondence did not dry up, one offering to pay for her return and warning her of the perils of crossing the Atlantic as he besought her: 'My dearly beloved Jeannie, shall I say my spouse?'

In conclusion, he wrote: 'My friends will not stand in the way of our happiness any longer; therefore do not feel disappointment. It verily shall not be. You shall certainly be mine on your arrival.'

Harvey, seemingly assured of everlasting love, promptly sold her stocks in America but arriving in Southampton she awaited waiting in vain at the dockside.

Johnstone was schizophrenia personified, so devout in correspondence, so cold in reality.

He was nowhere to be found. An urgent letter from her brother went unanswered and time passed before he was traced.

And only by chance, as the High Court which sat in Winchester, learnt in 1847 when she sued him for breach of promise.

Once lovers, now bitter enemies, a line from one of his ardent letters reflecting her anger and distress: "Oh, beloved, I think you would return to me, even if you did not expect to be made happy.'

Cockburn read line after line from the letters she had devoutly kept, as he condemned the surgeon's heartless conduct.

"To complete his career of skulking and cowardice, he concealed himself away from her until this present appointment and her advisers only discovered it in time to serve him with a writ at Portsmouth, just before the Spartan sailed."

Johnstone's defence was frivolous - he had not harboured any intention of marrying her, that she had not arrived in Britain in good time and that she had absolved him from the promise.

His representative Sergeant Kingslake was forced to concede at the outset the letters were "the most ridiculous that any man with lucid intervals could ever write."

He even suggested: "If a commission of lunacy had ever been taken out against the defendant, I believe those letters would have been sufficient to induce a jury to pronounce him insane."

He then bizarrely tried to convince jurors he had written to her imploring her to stay in America and not leave it as his friends would not give their consent.

The judge, Mr Justice Wilde, however was very much on her side. "The plaintiff is entitled to your verdict. The only question is the amount you will give."

Jurors concurred, awarding damages amounting to £400 with costs.