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Author Topic: Divorce Records from 1880  (Read 3319 times)

Offline rthom

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Divorce Records from 1880
« on: Saturday 29 September 07 19:31 BST (UK) »
I have just located an index record for the divorce of my great grandparents in 1880.  This has long been shrouded in mystery in our family oral history, so I am hoping that someone will be able to tell me where I can obtain a copy of the full record.

Thanks, rthom


Surname interests: Acfield (Ackfield, Hackfield) - SFK, LON / Adams - BDF / Askham - NHT / Baldrey - SFK / Charlwood - LON / Hall - NFK, ESS, LND / Hemmings (Hemings, Heming) - WAR, OXF, NHT, LON / Hibbert - BRK / Ivey - LON / James - OXF / Manning - NHT / Mason - NHT / Pearson - WAR, NHT / Pizzy - SFK / Polly (Polley) - OXF / Rivers - SFK / Sargeant - WAR, SRY, LON, USA / Simons (Simonds) - BDF / Taylor - NHT / Wiggins - OXF

Census information is Crown copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.

Offline Valda

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 29 September 07 19:46 BST (UK) »
You will find the case records at The National Archives.
This is their research guide.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/RdLeaflet.asp?sLeafletID=53

You will have to visit TNA to view the records.

Regards

Valda
Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk


Offline rthom

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 29 September 07 20:24 BST (UK) »
Hi Valda:  Thanks again for the prompt help.  I feared that it might need a personal visit to TNA -- just a little tricky as I am in the US!  I was hoping it might be possible to order copies remotely.  I will have to coerce one of my cousins to pay TNA a visit.

Regards, rthom
Surname interests: Acfield (Ackfield, Hackfield) - SFK, LON / Adams - BDF / Askham - NHT / Baldrey - SFK / Charlwood - LON / Hall - NFK, ESS, LND / Hemmings (Hemings, Heming) - WAR, OXF, NHT, LON / Hibbert - BRK / Ivey - LON / James - OXF / Manning - NHT / Mason - NHT / Pearson - WAR, NHT / Pizzy - SFK / Polly (Polley) - OXF / Rivers - SFK / Sargeant - WAR, SRY, LON, USA / Simons (Simonds) - BDF / Taylor - NHT / Wiggins - OXF

Census information is Crown copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.

Offline madpants

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 29 September 07 20:33 BST (UK) »
Does anyone know what the allowable grounds for divorce were then?

I have a supposed divorce I've not looked up yet and was just wondering what you had to do to get one.
GREENWELL - Middlesbrough
TURNBULL - Houghton le Spring, Coxhoe, Spennymoor
DEVEY - Pentonville, Stockton, M'bro
MOHAN/HUN - Stockton on Tees
SCRAFTON - Darlington
BROADBENT - Saddleworth, Ashton Under Lyne
HEMSWELL - Grantham, M'bro
SIMPKINS - M'bro
SIMPKIN - Little Wratting, Suffolk
MALLALIEU - Saddleworth, Ashton U L
GOODWIN - Macclesfield Forest
SUTCLIFFE - Heptonstall, Ashton U L
PLIMMER - Pontesbury, Ashton U L
CAMBRIDGE - Goulborne, Ashton U L
SIDDALL - Ashton U L

Offline rthom

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 29 September 07 21:06 BST (UK) »
Hello madpants:

I too am very interested to know what the grounds were for the divorce as I had understood that divorce was very difficult (and/or expensive) to obtain in the late 1800s.  I can see from the 1880 index record what looks like the naming of a co-respondent -- suggestive of the grounds -- and also likely the reason it was kept in the family closet.

Regards, rthom
Surname interests: Acfield (Ackfield, Hackfield) - SFK, LON / Adams - BDF / Askham - NHT / Baldrey - SFK / Charlwood - LON / Hall - NFK, ESS, LND / Hemmings (Hemings, Heming) - WAR, OXF, NHT, LON / Hibbert - BRK / Ivey - LON / James - OXF / Manning - NHT / Mason - NHT / Pearson - WAR, NHT / Pizzy - SFK / Polly (Polley) - OXF / Rivers - SFK / Sargeant - WAR, SRY, LON, USA / Simons (Simonds) - BDF / Taylor - NHT / Wiggins - OXF

Census information is Crown copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.

Offline Valda

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #5 on: Saturday 29 September 07 21:30 BST (UK) »
If you have a TNA reference for the divorce you might be able to order photocopies direct from TNA but case papers involve lots of papers some of which you really would not need to have copies of, so it is best to send some one to go through them.

The first thing to know about divorces pre the end of the First World War were they were rare. Free legal aid was not available until after the First World War and so the cost of a divorce was beyond the majority of people who could not afford the prohibitively expensive legal costs. Most people stayed married or went for the cheaper option of judicial separation which meant they legally couldn't remarry. Couples however did live together as man and wife often marrying many years later (or not at all) when they found out their previous partner had died or thought it was now safe to take the risk. A surprisingly high number of couples married bigamously.
I know of examples of bigamous marriages or couples living together where there were later stories in families of a divorce which did not in fact take place.

The main grounds for divorce after 1857 and before the 1920s was adultery. However women could not divorce husbands for that reason alone. Besides that they needed to prove desertion of over two years and or cruelty (the concept of mental cruelty was only must beginning to be understood). The difficulty for women deserted by their husbands and not knowing where they had gone, would be how they therefore proved adultery as well. If the wife committed adultery the husband was also able to sue her 'seducer' and claim compensation.

Until the early 1920s divorces could only be heard in the High court in London which again made the whole thing more expensive and difficult for anyone living outside the capital.

Pre First World War with fewer divorces mostly amongst the wealthy or at least the better off and with the grounds so restricted newspapers were always keen to print details of the court cases. This and the stigma which went with divorces (and the effects on the children of that stigma) meant couples often stayed together in very difficult circumstances.
Women who committed adultery had no rights as far as their children were concerned - to even see them again. Such women had to hope their lovers would indeed marry them and would be be available to do so, often more difficult if they were married and their wronged wives refused to divorce their husbands, since the husbands would have no grounds to divorce their wives.
 
Regards

Valda
Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Online stanmapstone

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 29 September 07 22:06 BST (UK) »
I have a great uncle, a coal miner, who got married to a divorcee in 1909, and her father was a locomotive engine driver. Unfortunately I can't find out her first husbands occupation, but I assume he was working class.So there seems to have been a cheaper way to get a divorce, particularly in the provinces. I would be very interested in finding out.
According to http://www.statistics.gov.uk/ Divorces between 1858 and 1900 averaged 350 a year.
Stan
Mapstone, Mapston.
Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Valda

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #7 on: Saturday 29 September 07 22:50 BST (UK) »
Stan

taken from TNA research guide

'From 11 January 1858, the new London-based Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes heard all divorce and matrimonial cases (such as restitution of conjugal rights, legitimacy, protection of earnings). In 1873 it was reformed into the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the Supreme Court of Judicature.The real opening of divorce to all classes took place in the 1920s, with the extension of legal aid, and the provision of some local facilities. In 1922, ten assize towns were named as suitable for the hearing of certain kinds of divorce. From 1927, petitions could also be filed in 23 district registries instead of solely at the Principal Registry in London, while cases could be heard in 18 assize towns as well as in London. This option proved increasingly popular: within 10 years nearly a quarter of all suits were started at district registries of the Supreme Court. The county courts were finally able to hear divorce suits in the late 1960s. Most divorces now take place at county courts.'

Pre the 1920s there were no divorces in the provinces. As I stated you could only be divorced in the High Court in London.

Lawrence Stone's book 'Road to Divorce A History of the Making and Breaking of Marriage in England 1530-1987' first published 1990 is the best book and most often quoted on divorce.
Examples of his figures for divorce decrees are
1857 4
1861 141 (divorce rate per 1,000 married couples was 0.04)
1871 161
1876 208
1886 325
1891 369
1896 459
1901 477
1906 546 (divorce rate 0.09)
1913 577
1917 700
1921 3,500
1928 4,000
1936 5,100
1940 7,800
1945 15,600 (divorce rate 1.4)
1947 60,300
1972 119,000
1985 160,000 (divorce rate 13.4)
I've tended to give peak years between the wars.

Have you a copy of your great uncle's marriage certificate in 1909? What are the details? Does his wife definitely give her status as a divorcee?

Regards

Valda
Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Online stanmapstone

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Re: Divorce Records from 1880
« Reply #8 on: Saturday 29 September 07 22:58 BST (UK) »
Yes, I have the marriage certificate and it definitely states "The divorced wife of" It was a Register Office wedding so I assume the Registrar would want to see some proof.


You can get the official figures for the number of divorces for every year from 1858 to 2003 at the Office of National Statistics web site http://www.rootschat.com/links/01z5/

Stan
Mapstone, Mapston.
Census Information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk