View Full Version : Divorce and separation

16-09-2012, 8:05 AM
Can I clarify the law back in the early to mid 1900's for both Scotland and England (it seems dull at the edges) that if a couple were living, one in each country back then, and they didn't set eyes on one another, or hear from each other for 7 years, that the marriage could be declared legally over?


16-09-2012, 8:20 AM
Hi ellyjane,

I have just moved this query over to the Divorce forum so that any one with specialist knowledge can pick it up. :smile5:

Meanwhile, have you had a look at this TNA Research Guide (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/records/research-guides/divorce-after-1858.htm)? It applies to England and Wales, but I am not sure what the rules would have been for Scotland.

Peter Goodey
16-09-2012, 9:07 AM
Perhaps what you're thinking of is the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 which you can look up. Talking about the crime of bigamy it says

"...nothing in this section contained shall extend to ...any person marrying a second time whose husband or wife shall have been continually absent from such person for the space of seven years then last past, and shall not have been known by such person to be living within that time...".

In other words, in the circumstances described, someone could not be charged with bigamy. This is not equivalent to divorce.

I don't know about Scotland.

16-09-2012, 2:42 PM
thanks to you both and for moving this..still getting to find my way around the Forum

My grandfather and his first wife both declared themselves single at the time of their second marriages, his service record shows him to have been absent for the 7 years...but as to whether his first wife in Durham could have found out about that is unknown. I take it that if she didn't know he had joined up or had moved to Scotland all trace may have been lost.