Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ignatius Grantham and Catherine Sheffield Divorce

Catherine Sheffield was the wife of William Christopher Seaman, my GGG Grandfather.
Catherine was first married to Ignatius Grantham on 09-Oct-1810 in Wayne County, Georgia. [1] 
Ignatius Grantham and Catherine Sheffield Marriage record
In 1815 they had a son, West Sheffield Grantham.  Court records show that they lived together as man and wife for nine years, but by the 1820 US census neither Catherine nor West were enumerated in Ignatius’s household, meaning they were likely no longer living with Ignatius at the time of the census. 
Uncommon in the era, Catherine filed for divorce in 1825 citing:

 “…soon after said intermarriage, the said Ignatius Grantham, disregarding the sanctity of his vows & the rights & duties incident to the married State, committed the crime of adultery with one Lavinia Grantham & with divers other lewd women to your Oratrix unknown.”   “… the said Ignatius hath willingly, constantly & obstinately deserted & abandoned your Oratrix.”[2]  Oratrix is a legal term for a female petitioner.
The court attempted to locate Ignatius during the divorce proceedings, but he could not be found.   

Interestingly, the divorce records show that she was legally represented by her “next friend” William Seaman.  Yes, this is the William Seaman that she later married. The divorce must have been granted about 1828, because in November 1828 Catherine married William Seaman.  The divorce petition records Catherine asking for equity, but the settlement required Catherine to pay the court cost of $23.03 and give up one slave girl.

Next up – where was Catherine living from 1819 -1828?

[1] Georgia, Marriage Records From Select Counties, 1828-1978 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
[2] Mississippi High Court of Errors and Appeals, Drawer no. 65, Case no. 15, Catherine Grantham vs. Ignatius Grantham, 21 February 1825; Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.