Author Topic: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)  (Read 308 times)

Offline DianaCanada

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Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« on: Monday 15 November 21 15:33 GMT (UK) »
Dixon Brearley was born ca 1886 in Manchester, Lancs., the son of James Chadwick Brearley and Mary Ellen Hibbert.  He married Winifred Jones, widow (nee Slattery, daughter of Jeremiah) 30 Oct 1909 at St. Aloysius RC Church, Ardwick, Manchester.  Their marriage was finally dissolved in January 1924 on the grounds of adultery on Winifred’s part, as Dixon was able to prove that he was serving in France during the time a child was conceived.  In a letter from Winifred to Dixon in the divorce file (Anc) she admits to the adultery, which must have been used against her in court.  (She takes a well-aimed shot at her father-in-law who told his son about her adultery, saying he had no right to “cast stones”, and she was right on that one as he lived with his second wife before the first one died.  The f-in-law also took her and Dixon’s son from her, but left the little girl with her mother.)

My questions – Dixon married as John Dixon Brearley (amended in the divorce file) and I assume this add-on might have been to do with conversion to Catholicism?  He had a younger brother John who died young, and also a cousin John Dixon Brearley who died young.  On the 1911 he is also listed as John Dixon Brearley. 

Another question – Dixon made his first petition on 28 Jun 1918 “in France in the Field”, before (looks like) R.S. Dorward, Lieut. R.E.  It was resworn in Salford in 1919.  Has anyone heard of this before, a divorce petition being made “in the Field” during the War?

Also had no luck tracing Winifred Slattery Jones Brearley after this point.  Her letter was very interesting and a bit touching, as she begged for forgiveness.  I was surprised at the level of literacy.  Winifred is probably the Winifred Philomena Slattery registered in Dec 1884, in Manchester district (does not entirely agree with her age on the 1911).  Her daughter (and Dixon's) born in 1913 was registered as Philomena but called Phyllis in the divorce petition.

Dixon was given custody of his two children with Winifred.  She gave up the child of adultery and I assume kept the daughter she had from her marriage to John Richard Jones.

Offline AntonyMMM

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Re: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 16 November 21 13:23 GMT (UK) »
A soldier making a sworn statement or affidavit in front of an officer is not unusual...... the officer takes the place of the solicitor/commissioner for oaths who would normally witness such a document

As a registrar it was something that occasionally came up - I remember we had one such statement (a Statutory Declaration) made by a serving soldier in Iraq in front of his CO and sent to us, so that he could be shown as the father of a child on the birth register with his (unmarried) partner.

Offline DianaCanada

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Re: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 16 November 21 15:16 GMT (UK) »
AntonyMMM, thank you for your reply.  That is very interesting that soldiers could deal with official issues in the field.  I imagine there must have been someone in charge of registering soldiers' deaths and sending the records back home.
I have a feeling from the wife's letter in the file, that Dixon's father put some pressure on him to file for divorce.  Perhaps the family was worried that Dixon would not survive the war (his half-brother did not) and that they would have to take on responsibility for his wife and child that was not his.


Online Maiden Stone

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Re: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« Reply #3 on: Tuesday 16 November 21 16:25 GMT (UK) »

My questions – Dixon married as John Dixon Brearley (amended in the divorce file) and I assume this add-on might have been to do with conversion to Catholicism?  He had a younger brother John who died young, and also a cousin John Dixon Brearley who died young.  On the 1911 he is also listed as John Dixon Brearley. 


Also had no luck tracing Winifred Slattery Jones Brearley after this point.  Her letter was very interesting and a bit touching, as she begged for forgiveness.  I was surprised at the level of literacy.  Winifred is probably the Winifred Philomena Slattery registered in Dec 1884, in Manchester district (does not entirely agree with her age on the 1911). 

Dixon was given custody of his two children with Winifred. 

Did Dixon convert? Was his religion on his military record? He may have adopted the name John in memory of his brother and cousin. (A relative of my mother was baptised John in a Catholic church when he was a baby but his birth was registered with a different forename. He used both names. His uncle John had died aged 6.)
Winifred Slattery should have had at least 5 or 6 years of compulsory elementary schooling. What was her father's occupation?
Dixon was entitled to divorce Winifred for adultery but Winifred wouldn't have been able to divorce him on the sole grounds of adultery. Divorce law changed after WW1. Matrimonial Causes Act 1923 equalised grounds for divorce. There had been changes to divorce, women's property and child custody laws in 19th century. 
Cowban

Offline DianaCanada

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Re: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« Reply #4 on: Tuesday 16 November 21 20:48 GMT (UK) »
Thank you for that information, Maiden Stone.
Am not sure if Dixon converted, but they did marry in the RC Church, and that is the first time I found him with the first name John.  Another relative of mine added Josephine when she married a Catholic in the 1930’s.
Winifred’s father was a brush maker.
Almost all my Manchester lot were working class.  If she went beyond the age of 11, I would be surprised.  As a former teacher, I have seen worse writing from students in high school.

Online Maiden Stone

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Re: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« Reply #5 on: Tuesday 16 November 21 23:39 GMT (UK) »

Did Dixon convert?

Dixon was entitled to divorce Winifred for adultery but Winifred wouldn't have been able to divorce him on the sole grounds of adultery. Divorce law changed after WW1. Matrimonial Causes Act 1923 equalised grounds for divorce.   

It looks as though Dixon did convert. No mention on transcription of church marriage register that he wasn't Catholic or that it was a mixed marriage.
www.lan-opc.org.uk/Manchester/Ardwick/staloysius/index.html
The wedding happened after "Ne temere"  papal encyclical on marriage had come into operation at Easter 1908. Parish priest was supposed to inform parish priest/s at parish/es where the couple were baptised, and information about the wedding was supposed to be entered in those baptism register/s. That means  information about a person's baptism might be included in a marriage register and information about their wedding might be in a baptism register. Not all priests copied the information in their registers; many registers didn't have space. 
Groom's baptism was at St. Wilfrid. No date.
Bride's baptism at St. Augustine 8th September 1885. A note says the scribe has written a question mark.
There was a St. Wilfrid R.C. church in Hulme, a Manchester suburb.

Is this Dixon's baptism in an Anglican church when he was young?
3rd July 1887 St. Bartholomew, Salford
Dixon Brearley, child of James & Mary Ellen
Born 14th March 1887. Address 109 Sunnyside St. Occupation turner.

Was this baptism at same church the cousin who died?
1tth Dec. 1892
John Dixon Brearley, child of John & Rebecca
Address 93 Sunnyside St. Occupation copper roller turner.

Baptism of another relative at same church?
20th July 1898
Dixon Brearley child of Dixon Brearley & Minnie
  Tatton Place, Dyer St.  Occupation polisher.
www.lan-opc.org.uk/Search/index.html

Re-reading your opening post, I see that the divorce was January 1924. I don't know when 1923 Matrimonial Causes Act began operation or if there would have been enough time for a divorce to go through. Designation of some local (assize) courts in 1922 to hear certain kinds of divorce made applications for divorce less costly. Divorces pre WW1 were rare. Too expensive for most people + scandalous. 
Cowban

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Re: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« Reply #6 on: Wednesday 17 November 21 00:31 GMT (UK) »
Registers of St. Augustine and St. Wilfrid R.C. churches are in Lancashire Archives. The "Church Registers Guide" is in 3 sections, C. of E., Non-conformist and R.C.. Each section is arranged alphabetically by place.
This is Manchester churches in R.C. section.
https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/media/67383/M.pdf

Some registers have been transcribed and indexed by members of Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society. Their website is "Manchester Ancestors".
https://www.mlfhs.uk/databases/catholic-records/register-index

Cowban

Offline DianaCanada

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Re: Divorce during WWI and other Issues - Brearley, Slattery (Manchester)
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday 17 November 21 00:48 GMT (UK) »
Thanks again, Maiden Stone.
John, James, and Dixon (Jr., his son was the third) were all brothers, and there was a fourth, William. They had several half siblings as well.  Their father Dixon Sr. died tragically as a volunteer fireman on the Isle of Man.  The sons were my grandfather’s first cousins through their mother, Ann Hibbert.  Ann’s grandmother was Catholic, but most of that grandmother’s descendants were C. of E.   
I think I have Dixon’s baptism, will check tomorrow, but am pretty sure it was C. of E.  His mother, Mary Ellen Hibbert, and his father James were first cousins.