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From the Green Valley News, Sunday 10 July 2011, page B2

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Nothing New Under the Sun

Many readers enjoyed the divorce cases presented in May, so I can't resist sharing more. These are interesting in that they demonstrate how human beings have not changed in the past 400 years or so. Or as King Solomon wrote around 950B.C., "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun," Ecclesiastes 1:8-10 (NIV).

We begin the story of Horod Long, also called Hardwood, Hoord, Howard, Hurrud or Herodias in various records. She herself signed her name Horod Long in 1664 in court. It seems in 1634 when she was about age 14 her father died and her mother sent her to London. There she secretly married John Hickes, "to her great grief," and was brought to Boston, then to Rhode Island about 1640. In 1644 Hickes was charged with beating his wife, Horod. His testimony states, ". . . her whoredome have freed my conscience . . . ." After posting a bond to keep the peace, Hickes took their two children and fled to Flushing, New York with, according to Horod, the small estate her mother had provided her,.

Horod quickly moved in with George Gardiner, a wealthy, heretofore respectable member of the Portsmouth community. She apparently did not petition for divorce in Rhode Island, but later claimed she was his common law wife. Friends stated the Gardiners said they were man and wife "without benefit of marriage."

In 1655, in the Portsmouth court, a resident charged George Gardiner with keeping John Hickes wife "as his owne contrarie to law." No action was taken by the court. In June 1655, the Dutch court at Flushing granted John Hickes a divorce from Horod on grounds of adultery, giving him permission to remarry.

In March 1664 Horod's "conscience compelled her to leave" Gardiner. She petitioned the court to make him provide her maintenance and not meddle with her as he had refused her request. She wanted "the estate and labor he had of her" and the house upon "her land" to enjoy without molestation. She won the case.

Coincidentally, in the same court records is a petition for divorce filed by Margaret Porter, an elderly woman who claimed her husband John Porter had gone from her, leaving her in such a state she had to rely on her children for support. Porter's estate was seized until he agreed to her demands. Horod soon went to live with John Porter as his housekeeper amid "much scandal and gossip." They were married after his wife died sometime between 1668 and 1671. So ends the adventures of Horod Long. Incidentally, George and Horod are my 9th great grandparents - in case you wonder what makes doing genealogy exciting.

The following divorce is interesting for the detail it provides. In October 1806, one Thomas Champlin of Exeter, Rhode Island petitioned the Washington County Court for divorce from his wife Thankful Coon.

He said in the twenty-five years since their marriage he "demeaned himself toward her as a kind, indulgent husband, but she . . . neither regarding her marriage covenant . . . nor her duty toward him as a wife, has for many years given herself over to intoxication and intemperance, has frequently wasted and squandered his property, has often treated him with vile and opprobrious language, has often assaulted him and seized him by the hair, has of late eloped from his bed and board and has been guilty of adulterous affairs with other men, and has often threatened [his] life."

Needless to say, Thomas was granted a divorce and the bonds of the marriage "were dissolved forever." One has to wonder why he waited 25 years to get rid of her. Perhaps he enjoyed being tormented.

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