Saturday, January 5, 2013

Divorce in the Early Colonial Days

Sometimes I just have too much time on my hand and look at the what happened in history on this day.  And behold, I found an interesting fact about divorce in the United States.  I also found the language and spelling interesting in the actual court decision written at the end of the excerpt. 

In the first record of a legal divorce in the American colonies, Anne Clarke of the Massachusetts Bay Colony is granted a divorce from her absent and adulterous husband, Denis Clarke, by the Quarter Court of Boston, Massachusetts. In a signed and sealed affidavit presented to John Winthrop Jr., the son of the colony's founder, Denis Clarke admitted to abandoning his wife, with whom he had two children, for another woman, with whom he had another two children. He also stated his refusal to return to his original wife, thus giving the Puritan court no option but to punish Clarke and grant a divorce to his wife, Anne. The Quarter Court's final decision read: "Anne Clarke, beeing deserted by Denis Clarke hir husband, and hee refusing to accompany with hir, she is graunted to bee divorced."

~ From "This Day in History" and The History Channel


Liz Flaherty said...

Makes you wonder how Anne Clarke ended up. Heroine or object of pity or was she blamed?

Allison Byers said...

I would say object of pity. And I also wonder how she would have made it on her own? Could/would she have been able to move in with a relative. Great story there.