Monday, August 22, 2011

Parental Alienation in 1827: Ball v Ball, England


EXCERPT (from long article): These parties have more than once appeared before the public, the plaintiff having obtained a divorce from her husband by reason of adultery; and she now filed a bill in equity against him, praying that their child, Emily Owen Ball, might be taken out of the custody of the father, or that the plaintiff might be allowed access to the child.

Mr. SHADWELL appeared for the plaintiff. The petitioner stated, that having discovered an illicit connexion between her husband and his niece, Anne Penny, she left him, and commencing proceedings against him in the Consistorial Court, she obtained a divorce. Against this decision he appealed to the Arches’ Court, at Canterbury, where the original decree was confirmed. From that period she had been wholly prevented from seeing the child, who was entitled to ₤8,945 standing in the name of the Accountant-General of that Court, and who, under her father’s care, was destitute of the advantages of all female
society whatever, the only female in the defendant’s house being a servant of all work. The father, in his answer, declared, that the plaintiff had endeavoured to alienate the affections of the child from him; and that with respect to Anne Penny, although it might look like premeditated hardihood to say so, after the sentence that had been obtained against him, yet no such adulterous intercourse as that which had been charged against him in the Consistorial Court had ever existed.

The VICE-CHANCELLOR. – I don’t know whether it did or did not. He knows best whether it did.

Mr. SHADWELL said, that the only court which could take cognizance of such matters had declared that he had not seen Anne Penny for 12 months. Then there was the affidavit of a person named Samuel Cobham, who deposed, that he knew the plaintiff Sarah Ball, and the defendant George Ball; that he was aware of the disputes between

them; that she was of an extremely violent temper: and then he went on rather prophetically to declare, that she would exert every means to alienate the affections of the child from her father if she were under her care; that he had witnessed the conduct of the defendant to his daughter, which was very proper and affectionate; that the daughter was extremely fond of her father, who, deponent was convinced, would do every thing in his power to make her happy.

[“Law Report, Court of Chancery, Monday, Aug. 6. Ball Against Ball,” The Times (London, England), Aug. 7, 1827, p. 3]

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