The scenario for The Sheriff’s Mistake was written by Edward Martin, a writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. However, Mr. Martin was actually a woman, Geraldine Harrison Grey. Born in Warwick, England, Miss Harrison had emigrated to New Zealand in 1907 and married Edward Martin Grey. The couple had one child.
Mrs. Grey frequently sent her short stories to American magazines and her scenarios to American movie producers for consideration.
But since it was considered “unseemly” for a married woman to do such a thing, she discretely assumed a masculine identity to avoid scandal. She utilized her husband’s first two names as her professional byline.
The scenario for The Sheriff’s Mistake was sent first to the Essanay Company in Chicago. When they declined to accept it, the intrepid Mrs. Grey sent it along to the Lubin Company in Philadelphia and they produced the film at the Betzwood studio.
With Lubin films in distribution around the globe, The Sheriff’s Mistake was eventually seen in England, by Mrs. Grey’s relatives. “’I saw ‘The Sheriff’s Mistake,’ at the local hall,” her brother wrote to her after seeing the film at a hall in Leamington Spa in 1913, “and it does you credit, and it seemed to me all of a sudden, a wonderful thing that an idea evolved in New Zealand, by a sister, could be produced in living form, for a brother to see in England.”
N.B. Our thanks to Annmarie Andrew, granddaughter of Geraldine Harrison Grey, for sharing this story with us and allowing us to use her family photograph on our website.