The First Divorce in United States History

The First Divorce in United States History

Divorces have been happening in the United States for hundreds of years. Although divorce laws have changed over these centuries, the core concept remains the same. Individuals who no longer want to remain in marriages can leave and start a new chapter of their lives. As it turns out, the  first divorce in United States history happened in the general vicinity of Massachusetts. This historical event is an interesting reminder of America’s long involvement with divorces, and it
shows us just how far we have come over the years.

If you are interested in getting divorced in the modern era, you will find it much easier than the process your ancestors had to deal with. Although there can be some delays and issues, getting divorced is as easy as reaching out to a divorce attorney in Massachusetts. Once you connect with one of these lawyers, you can move forward and deal with your divorce in confidence.

The First Divorce Was in the Massachusetts Bay Colony
The very first recorded divorce in United States history occurred in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although this colony no longer exists, it was situated in the New England Region and encompassed many modern states today, including Massachusetts. The details of this divorce are sparse, but we do know who got divorced and why the divorce was granted.

On January 5th of 1643, Anne Clarke petitioned for a divorce from her husband, Denis Clarke. She approached the Quarter Court of Boston, and details of her marriage were recorded by this court. Eventually, a signed and sealed affidavit was presented to John Winthrop Jr., the son of the colony’s founder.

In this affidavit, Denis Clarke admitted that he had two wives. Apparently, he had abandoned his first wife and his two children in order to pursue a relationship with this second woman. He then had two more children with his second wife. Since Clarke refused to return to his original wife, the court granted a divorce for Anne Clarke. As a result, the first divorce in U.S. history was granted on the grounds of desertion and bigamy. Not only that, but Denis Clarke was severely punished. This was because the Puritans of that time looked upon divorce with distaste.

There is also evidence that a divorce occurred four years before this incident – again in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. According to the court records, a man named James Luxford had (again) married two wives, and his first wife was granted a divorce as a result. Like Clarke, Luxford also faced severe punishment and was put in the stocks. He was then fined and banished. Luxford’s wife received alimony in the form of all his possessions.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today
If you have been searching the Massachusetts area for a qualified, experienced divorce attorney, look no further than The Law Offices of Johnson, Sclafani &  Moriarty. Our history may not date back to the very first divorce in United States history, but we still have plenty of experience. Over the years, we have helped plenty of spouses end their marriages in the most effective way possible, and we can do the same for you. Reach out today, book your consultation, and take your first steps towards a positive resolution. Call us now for a free consultation. 413-732-8356.