Love and scandal sizzles in divorce papers of the 1930s

Love and scandal sizzles in divorce papers of the 1930s

Revealed … secret affairs were behind many a divorce.IF MILLS & BOON is to your liking, some of the affidavits contained in 57,000 newly released divorce papers from the 1930s make for entertaining reading.

In one of the documents, a letter was written to Carla Jaques on the Steam Ship Orvieto, bound from Australia to London in 1927. ”Carla my love, Sweetheart I looked into your cabin from the outside at 7.30 and I saw your lovely self fast asleep. Carla my darling it was perfectly heavenly, but oh my sweetheart I just hated leaving you then, for it was then that you really needed petting. Yours, Billy.”

The words were not from her spouse.

Two years later, romance shifted to Wyong, and Mrs Jaques is in the company of a different suitor. Her husband, Charles Jaques, a well-known Sydney solicitor and racehorse owner, is away, according to neighbour Mr Smith, who maintained Mr Jaques’s orchard.

”Mrs Jaques and Mr Ralph Pooley stayed at the house on the night of the day they arrived and I believe on the following night,” he said.

”On the day after they arrived they went for a long walk along the road to the lake. They came back in about an hour’s time and they were skylarking together and had draped themselves with flowers which they had picked hanging them over their shoulders and heads and they went along with their arms around one another’s waists laughing and joking as they went.”

A series of divorce papers from 1931-1949 have been released by the Supreme Court and are accessible through the archives of the NSW State Records Authority at Kingswood.

They include the divorce papers of razor gang leader Tilly Devine from husband, James, which was undefended. He would stay out all night and if she dared to say anything, he would knock her down. If she gave him ”only a couple of quid”, he would say: ”How’s a man to go to the races on that?”.

And it seems the Blue Mountains were a regular haunt for those wishing to pursue extramarital activities.

The manager of public access at State Records, Christine Yeats, said: ”What comes out through these records is in many of the cases where adultery was cited as grounds for the divorce the Blue Mountains and the Southern Highlands in particular were very popular for those special weekends away.”

But the documents were not always colourful. ”They were largely just a part of the legal process,” she said. ”I have never seen one that had a private detective saying, ‘I burst into the room and there they were’.” However, Ms Yeats said they were a useful tool for geneologists.

”They contain the marriage certificate as evidence the couple were married in the first place and that is incredibly useful for family historians and the affidavits will often talk about where the couple lived, what their occupations were. It helps put meat on the bones for historians.”

A decree absolute in the case of Jaques V Jaques was granted in 1931.

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