Divorce Acts in the Parliamentary Archives: The Addision/Campbell Divorce case, 1801
The Addison/Campbell Divorce case in 1801 was the first case to be brought to Parliament by a woman. Jane Campbell divorced her husband Edward Addison on the grounds of adultery with her sister Jessy Campbell.
Amendment to the Addison/Campbell divorce Bill 1801 [Main Papers, 13 March 1801].
The document on the right contains an amendment made to the Bill whilst it was being considered by the House of Lords. Note that Jane was given the custody of her children - it was very unusual for a woman to be given custody in this period.
The document reads:
'And in Order to secure as far as Circumstances will admit the virtuous education of the Children of the said Jane Campbell Be it Declared and Enacted that it shall not be lawful for the said Edward Addison to remove his daughter from the Care and Custody of her Mother during her Minority and that the Son and Daughter of the said Edward Addison shall during their respective Minorities be deemed and taken to be to all Intents and Purposes Wards of the High Court of Chancery'.
The document on the left is a petition from George Bedford to the House of Lords. Bedford had been looking for Addison in order to serve the divorce papers on him. Addison had fled abroad to avoid paying £5,000 damages which had been awarded against him by Jessy Campbell's husband James Campbell, following a suit for Criminal Conversation in the civil court.
In the petition, George Bedford describes the various places in which he had looked for Edward Addison and concludes as follows:
' this Deponent could find no other trace or Intelligence of the said Edward Addision but that he had gone abroad in consequence of the Verdict with Five Thousand pounds damages and Costs which had been recovered against him by James Campbell Esquire for adultery committed by the said Edward Addision with Jessy Campbell the wife of the said James Campbell'.
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Evidence given by Amelia Laugher, maid to Jessy Campbell, testifying to the relationship between Jessy Campbell and Edward Addison [Main Papers, 22 April 1801].
The document on the right is in question and answer form, and begins:
Q. "Nor when he locked the Door?"
Q. "When he saw you, what did he say?"
A. "Mrs. Campbell spoke and asked, who was there, and I said it was Mr. Addison."
Q. "What did he say?"
A. "He said he had made a Mistake, it was the wrong Room, and I let him out of the Door."
Q. "You are sure he had been in the White Bedroom before?"
A. "He had taken his Cloaths off, and must have known it was his Room."