Introduction – Lord Roos Divorces His Wife
In England, before 1857, there was no statute for a man to divorce his wife through a court order. After 1857, the Matrimonial Causes Act gave courts the power to pass judgments for divorce. But about 200 years before that, in 1666, a man known as Lord Roos, managed to divorce his wife through an Act of Parliament.
Lord Roos was John Manners, 1st Duke of Rutland and 9th Earl of Rutland. He married his second cousin, the Lady Roos, who was about 7 years older than himself, when he was about 20 years old (in 1658). Her name was Anne Manners, nee Lady Anne Pierrepont. One day, the Lady Roos went on a trip, by herself, without him. When she came back, she was pregnant. She told the Lord Roos that, if the child she bore was a boy, he would one day be the Earl of Rutland.
The Lord Roos, probably appalled by the news, waited for the son to be born, named him “Ignoto”, and sent him to an orphanage, presumably never to be seen again. (“Ignoto” means “unfamiliar” or “strange”, in the Italian language.)
But the Lord Roos was not content with the sending off of the child. He felt unhappy that his wife had committed adultery. But divorce was not yet an option at that time. There was no possibility of going to the courts to obtain an order for divorce.
So, in 1663, he obtained a “separation from room and board”, on grounds of her adultery, meaning to say that he did not need to live with her anymore. In 1667, he got Parliament to pass a private Act to bastardize all her children from 1659 (the year after their marriage). In 1670, another Act was obtained, to allow him to remarry.
And so, Lord Roos was the first commoner in all of England to obtain the permission to remarry, but it was through an Act of Parliament, instead of a court order.
The Subsequent Marriages of Lord Roos.
Lord Roos went on to remarry. He did not wait long to remarry. In 1671, just one year after the Act was passed, that allowed him to remarry, he did just that. He married his second wife, Lady Diana Bruce, in November 1671, but their marriage ended in July 1672, when she died in childbirth. In 1673, he married his third wife, Catherine Wriothesley Noel, and she gave birth three children – a son and two daughters.
Subsequently, an Act was passed in Parliament (in 1690?) to recognise the marriage of Lord Roos as valid, and the legitimacy of his children. (Source: Oxford Text Archive) A summary of the text is as follows:
“The Right Honorable William Marquess of Northampton was legally divorced from his wife, Lady Anne Bowrgsher, for her “dissolute living and manifest Adultery”. This meant that he was free to marry again, and he did so four years later, to the good and virtuous Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Sir George Brooke, Lord Cobham. The King wanted to make sure that any children born from this marriage were seen as legitimate, so he passed a law that said that the marriage between the Marquess and Elizabeth was to be seen as lawful, and that any children born from it were to be seen as legitimate. This law also meant that the children would be able to inherit any lands, tenements, hereditaments, and rights that the Marquess and Elizabeth had, just as if they had been born in a lawful marriage.”
(Note: The original language has been summarized by an AI software and a summary of its contents expressed in modern English.)
The effect of Lord Roos’ Divorce Case on Modern Family Law
The case of Lord Roos established the position that a man could obtain a divorce order against his wife, on grounds of her adultery. It set the tone for the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act, which was an influence in the Commonwealth Countries where the British established colonies.
In the Holy Bible, there are some mentions of divorce; but if the wife is faultless, a man who divorces his wife would make his wife an adulterer. (Matthew 5:32; Mark 10:11). A man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32; Luke 16:18) A man who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman, commits adultery. (Matthew 19:9; Luke 16:18) It can be seen that the only good reason for a man to divorce his wife, is immorality on the part of his wife. (Matthew 19:9) Indeed, a man was exhorted not to divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:11)
This case of Lord Roos is indeed a landmark case in modern family law, and it is basic reading in many textbooks on the matter. But we have covered it in this article for those readers who may be fond of learning new things.
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This article was created to provide general information. Please do not consider anything within it as legal advice. It was not written with your particular situation in mind. Please consult with a licensed legal practitioner before making any decision. Lawyers do not need to be divorced to be able to handle divorce proceedings. No living artists were referenced in the creation of the AI art.