How To Spot A Divorcee

Marriage certificates will often state the name of the previous spouse of a divorcee. On pedigrees, divorce is indicated by the term 'm. diss. by div.' - 'marriage dissolved by divorce'.

the man accused of having slept with his wife, claiming damages for loss of his wife's virtue. This could be a lucrative step - in 1809, one Colonel Powlett was awarded £3,000 damages. Only after completing these stages could a man take his case to Parliament and seek an Act dissolving the marriage. This could be a long and costly procedure, with no guarantee of success - Powlett's bill, for example, was rejected.

Only 318 successful cases were ever brought under this system. Their records are in the House of Lords Records Office. Sometimes, couples opted for a private separation agreement. These are amongst the Chancery proceedings in C 54 at The National Archives.

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