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Browsing: Legal Papers of John Adams, Volume 1


Docno: ADMS-05-01-02-0007-0001-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1771-10-17

Adams' Notes of Authorities and Minutes of the Hearing1

Governor and Council, Boston, 17 October 1771

Abigail Broadstreet vs. Joseph Broadstreet
Godolphin's Repertorium Canonicum 507.2
“Wife libelled Husband in the Ecclesiastical Court for Alimony because he beat her so as she could not live with him. A Prohibition was prayed, but denied by the Court; and it was held in this Case, that the Wife might have the Peace vs. her Husband for unreasonable Correction.” Sir Thos. Simmonds Case. Mores Rep.3
508. §13. Definition of Alimony, and Elopement.4
509. §14. Vid.5
{ 285 }
510. §16.6
511. §18.7
Prov. Law, page 59, 60. An Act to prevent incestuous Marriages.8
Prov. Law. 8 G. 2, c. 10, page 371. Impowered to inforce their decrees by Imprisonment.9
Burn. Ecc. Law. Vol. 2. 430. 431.10
Woods, civ. Law. 124. middle11
Drs. Wit[nesse]s.12
J. Wilkins
E. Knight
[J.] Town.
1. In JA 's hand. Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 185.
2. John Godolphin, Repertorium Canonicum 507 (London, 3d edn., 1687).
3. This notation appears in the margin in Godolphin, Repertorium Canonicum 507, cited in note 17 2 above. JA 's quote from Godolphin is in turn an almost verbatim borrowing by Godolphin of the report of “Sir Tho. Simonds Case” in An Exact Abridgment in English of the Cases Reported by Sr. Francis More Kt. 263 (London, ed. Hughes, 1665). The original report of the case is found sub nom. Sir Tho. Seymours Case, in Moore K.B. 874, 72 Eng. Rep. 966 (K.B. undated).
4. That is, Godolphin, Repertorium Canonicum 508. The definitions are “Alimony .... that proportion of the Husbands Estate, which the Wife sues in the Ecclesiastical Court, to have allowed her for present subsistence and livelyhood, according to Law, upon any such separation from her Husband, as is not caused by her own elopement or Adultery.... Elopement ... that voluntary departure of a Wife from her Husband to live with an Adulterer.”
5. Godolphin, Repertorium Canonicum 509. A qualification of the passage in note 4 note 19 above, to the effect that, although in most cases of separation not occasioned by elopement, adultery, or a legal impediment to marriage, the husband is held to pay alimony, he need not pay if the wife departs of her own accord through no default of his, even where she is not chargeable with adultery. When the reason of her departure is some default in the husband, such as cruelty, she is then entitled to alimony, if she is blameless. If the wife repents of any flight save elopement, adultery, or a legal impediment, the husband must take her back or pay alimony. Conversely, where a blameless wife has fled, if the husband repents and offers security that will assure his good behavior, he need not pay alimony if his wife then refuses to return.
6. Godolphin, Repertorium Canonicum 510, setting out John Owen's Case, Hetley 69, 124 Eng. Rep. 349 (C.P. undated) (Prohibition granted to the Council of the Marches of Wales, which had seized Owen and sequestered his property for non-payment of a decree of maintenance made in a case where the husband was living apart by the Bishop of Bangor and confirmed in the Council. Semble, the only remedy for disobedience of an ecclesiastical decree is excommunication). This case and the following one were apparently cited by JA as examples of the action of the Ecclesiastical Courts, rather than for the precise holdings on the prohibitions.
7. Godolphin, Repertorium Canonicum 511–512, setting out Cloborn v. Cloborn (cited incorrectly as Clobery v. Clobery), Hetley 149, 124 Eng. Rep. 414 (C.P. 1631) (Prohibition to the Ecclesiastical Court refused in award of alimony for cruelty including physical violence and insults, where the husband had merely denied the allegations. His grounds for the prohibition were that he had chastised his wife for reasonable cause and that there had been a subsequent reconciliation. The court held that it could not “examine what is cruelty,” and that moreover the actions here were cruelty. If the husband had pleaded some justification and it had been refused, then the prohibition might lie).
8. Acts and Laws, Of His Majesty's Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New-England 59–60 (Boston, 1759); Act of 19 June 1695, c. 2, 1 A&R 208. Section 3 provides in part that “it shall be in the power of the justices of the superiour court of judicature to assign unto any women so separated [i.e. divorced or marriage annulled] such reasonable part of the estate of her late husband as in their discretion the circumstances of the estate may admit, not exceeding one-third part thereof.” Id. at 209. For a case of JA 's illustrating the operation of the statute, see the petition of Sarah Griffin (Gould), SF 91716; Min. Bk. 98, SCJ Suffolk, Aug. 1773, N–47. This arose from Gould v. Gould, SF 129772; Divorce Recs., fols. 78–79.
9. Acts and Laws 371–372 (1759); Act of Jan. 1755, c. 15, 3 A&R 782. The Act provides that upon refusal or neglect of any person to obey the decree of Governor and Council in a controversy concerning marriage and divorce, the secretary of the Province, upon their order, may issue a warrant for the arrest and commitment to prison of that person without bail until he complies with the decree.
10. 2 Burn, Ecclesiastical Law 430–431. The passage deals with the nature and incidents of divorce a mensa et thoro. See text at note 7 above.
11. Wood, New Institute of the Civil Law 124, a passage setting forth the grounds of divorce under the civil law, which include irreconcilable hatred, intolerable cruelty, and “when one party shall unjustly forsake and live apart from the other. ”Wood then states that the law of England, following the canon law, will not permit divorce from the bonds of matrimony, but does not raise the question of divorce from bed and board.
12. That is, evidence presented on behalf of Dr. Broadstreet. See note 13 above. See the depositions of Joshua Wilkins, Enos Knight, and Jonathan Town in SF 129762. Wilkins testified that the hay sold by Broadstreet was not actually Abigail's. The other two depositions describe the Jan. 1771 meetings between the parties in terms favorable to Broadstreet.