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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"Notorious in the Neighborhood": The Drake Divorce Petition II


 The findings of the New Kent Court re the petition . . .

Virginia

Pleas and proceedings before the Honorable, the Judge of the Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery for the County of New Kent at the Court House in the 14th day of May 1834-Be it remembered that heretofore, to wit: on the 13th day of March 1834, come Louise W. Drake wife of Ro. Drake by James Semple Jr. Esq. her attorney and filed in the Clerk's Office of the Circuit Supr. Court of law and Chancery for the County of New Kent a statement in writing of the Causes upon which she intends to found a petition for a divorce, which writing containing the statement aforesaid is in the words and figures following-
The Statement of Louise W. Drake wife of Robt. Drake to be filed in the Superior Court of Law & chancery for the County of New Kent. She represents that in 1822 (Nov 30th) having found a strong attachment to her present husband, she intermarried with him, with approbation of her friends, who deemed it a prudent connection. That they resided together for six or eight eight years, with only occasional slight interruptions to their matrimonial felicity- during which time, she may safely affirm that her duties as the wife of the Robert were performed faithfully, honestly, & devotedly; nor did she ever have sufficient cause to doubt the propriety of her choice, until in an evil hour her husband formed an improper connecion(sic) with a young woman residing in the neighborhood - He urged her so strongly to take this girl into the family that she at length consented to it, from a desire to conform to his wishes, altho she could not see the necessity for having such an intimate of her family. About the last of Jany: 1830 this girl named Rebecca Hall, came to live with them; From that period his affections were rapidly alienated from his wife- sometimes he would not speak to her for several days & he became almost a Stranger to here bed. In this state of things She gave birth to - child, and while in Confinement She was treated with marked & studied coldness, and cruelty by her husband who did not even furnish her with those things usually deemed necessary to one in her situation Frequently under the pretext of business he would go at night into the room in which the said Rebecca slept while she was in bed & spend hours there: At length, instigated by the pangs of jealousy, but too well founded, on one occasion when she She observed his entrance just before day, She moved softly to the door and actually caught him in the embrace of the said Rebecca. As might be expected a quarrel ensued & he left the house with the declaration that he would never again live with his life. He did however return, and they lived together until the birth of her Second child in April 1832. During this interval, he treated her more coldly & cruelly than ever, and while in child bed She suffered severely not only from his entire neglect, but even for the want of necessaries, allowed to females in the sorest class in Society in her Situation that her existence was endangered- whether sick or well nothing but meat usually bacon, or Salt fish, & bread, constituted her fare, nor was she aided by a servant however sick she might, except upon one occasion, when he permitted a neighboring Physician who had from charitable motives called to see her while ill, to send a little slave to wait on her, & was this slave while with her was fed by the same charitable neighbor refusing to let her accept the services of the slave, on any other conditions. When her last child was little more than one month old; finding that her ill treatment must ultimately cost her her life, if she remained under(?) the same roof with her husband, She quitted his house, & with her children lived on the charity of her friends & relatives, until April 1833- He repeatedly sent her messages during intervals forbidding her return & declaring her would never live with her again; However, finding he might be Compelled to maintain her if he persisted in that course & wishing to get her in his power to punish her still further, he at that time ordered her to return to his house- hoping that his lost affections might be recovered by her obedience, She again trusted him & was again deceived- She remained with him till Nov 1833- or rather she should say, She lived in his house for she seldom saw him, & he in fact lived with his paramour, but a few hundred yards distant, to to whom to whom(sic) he furnished a house & horse & many of those comforts he denied his wife. To render his cruelty more refined - at the same time that he would not to speak to her & would not scarcely notice his children, all intercourse with her own relatives was forbidden positively, & thus she lived an involuntary recluse though in the house of her husband & surrounded by her numerous relatives. Despairing at last of making any impression upon his hardened conscious, she was forced to abandon his house & seek some consolation in the society of her poor old mother, on whose husband she is now thrown for her support; She believes and charges, that he has for several years had kept up habitually a criminal intercourse with the woman whose name has been mentioned and this she believes is notorious to the whole neighborhood: She has been compelled to rely on charity for necessary clothing for an infant child, even while in his house & since she quitted it, no mark of attention to his children has ever relieved the Cold & Cutting cruelty he has shown to their mother.

And now at this day, to wit: at a Circuit Superior Court of Law and Chancery, begun & held for New Kent County at the Court house on the 14"-day of May 1834, being the day first herein mentioned came the parties by their attorneys, and by their consent this cause is docketed , and thereupon came a jury to wit, Jac S. Poindexter, Thomas B. Sherman, William A. Green, Julius Martin, Will H. Vaiden Sr., St. Geo T. Coalter, John Slater, John Tandy, Saul T. Williamson, Jno. M. Ferguson, Edward C. Mosby and Joseph C. Parkinson, who being sworn well and truly to enquire whether the charges contained in the plaintiffs statement be wholly true, & if not wholly true, how far they are true, upon their oaths returned a verdict in these words "We the jury find the allegations charged in this cause to be substantially true." Saul T. Williamson

        A copy teste
                Jno. D. Christian c c

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