Airing Out the Dirty Laundry, 1800s-Style

While reading old newspaper abstracts for a client project, I came across this gem of an exchange between a quarreling husband and wife:

3 Aug 1822: Notice – “‘Whereas my wife, Celia Stevens has left my bed & board….’ – Samuel Stevens”

10 Aug 1822 – “Celia Stevens answers the notice of her husband, Samuel Stevens, saying ‘He has neither bed or board… it being mine and the fact is he left it…'”

(F. Edward Wright, Maryland Eastern Shore Newspaper Abstracts, Volume 4, 1819-1824 (Silver Spring, Md.: Family Line, 1982), page 37, entries 231-232.)

This led me to look up the term “bed and board” and, not surprisingly, it’s the basis of a legal definition of a divorce where the husband and wife are not legally separated, but are not living together either (see a modern definition here).

These posts no doubt caused a stir at the time. I would love to find the original clippings — it appears the Maryland State Archives may have them. Hmmm… Maybe after I finish the client project.


3 thoughts on “Airing Out the Dirty Laundry, 1800s-Style

  1. Aunt Joan says:

    Hahahahahaha! Thanks, Missy 🙂

  2. Katherine says:

    That’s funny/sad.

    It kind of reminds me of when I was in a museum in Rothenberg, Germany, which has a large collection of medieval legal documents. Interestingly enough, there was an impressive collection of prenuptial agreements between nobility. Everyone collects something, eh?

  3. Joan says:

    Please accept and pick up the the Ancestor Approved Award at Roots’N’ Leaves

    I very much enjoy your blog — such a varied scope and always interesting.

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