Irish Divorce Suit

In 1906, the last Wallis of Drishane Castle, Henry Aubery Beaumont Wallis was divorced from his estranged wife Elizabeth Bingham. Apparently one of only two divorces that were permitted in Ireland (and only by Act of Parlaiment), until divorce was legalised in 1996. The below report from the House of Lords gives the details:

Witnesses were called before the House of Lords in support of an Irish Divorce Bill promoted by Mrs. Elizabeth. Caroline Wallis, of 19, Molesworth Street Dublin, who sought to dissolve her marriage with Henry Aubrey Beaumont Wallis, of Drishane Castle, County Cork. The wedding took place on March 1, 1883, at Kiderpore, Calcutta, the lady being a daughter of the Hon. Albert Yelverton Bingham. Afterwards the couple lived together in New Zealand, at Drishane Castle, and elsewhere, and two children were born. In 1892 Mr. Wallis returned from the West African Gold Coast, where he had been appointed a District Commissioner, and the couple resided together at Albert Gate Mansions in London. Subsequently the wife visited India for the benefit of her health, and on her return was unable to asseertain where Mr. Wallis was residing. Later, however, the parties again for some time lived together.

It was alleged that in 1903, at Drishane Castle, Mr. Wallis treated his wife cruelly, refusing to allow her any money or the use of his horses and carriages, and that on May 18 he flung her to the ground, wrenching her wrist and bending back her fingers. In March, 1904, her husband having become tenant of Drishane Castle, petitioner left, and had never since seen him. Subsequently she discovered that the husband had between 1896 amd 1901 inclusive committed misconduct with a woman named Edith Scott, at Titchfield Street, London.

A Decree of Separation I had been pronounced in the Irish Courts. The Clauses of the Bill provided that the marriage should be declared void, and that the petitioner might be enabled to marry again, that her rights in property of a, future husband might be protected, and that it should not be lawful for Mr. Wallis to inter-marry with Edit Scott.

Mr. Duke, K.C., represented the petitioner, but no appearance was made for Mr. Wallis. Mrs. Wallis was called, and briefly gave evidence in support of the allegations in the preamble of the Bill. The owner of flats in Titchfield-street stated that Mr. Wallis had occupied one of these from 1896 to 1901, and a lady lived there who was not the petitioner. A neighbour gave evidence that, that lady was introduced to him by Mr. Wallis as his wife, and other witnesses proved that the orders of the House and a copy of the Bill was served upon Mr. Wallis in London on Friday last. Medical evidence was also given as to the injury to the petitioner’s hand.

The Lord Chancellor at the conclusion, of the case moved that the Bill be read a second time, and their lordships concurred.

The above article is from The Evening Express and Evening Mail March 13th 1906

Elizabeth was married within four months of the divorce, Henry married again a year later 1907, but not to Edith Scott! You’d have to surmise that Elizabeth may not have been 100% faithful either, and that Edith Scott wasn’t the other lady’s real name!

PRIVATE BILL BUSINESS. House of Lords Debate 01 March 1906 (vol 152 c1249) [ref]

Wallis’ Divorce Bill [H.L.]. A Bill to dissolve the marriage of Elizabeth Caroline Wallis with Henry Aubrey Beaumont Wallis, commonly called Aubrey Wallis, her present husband and to enable her to marry again, and for other purposes. Presented (on petition) and a copy of the proceedings in and of the decree of divorce of the King’s Bench, Matrimonial Division of the High Court of Justice in Ireland delivered (on oath). Bill read 1a; and to be read 2a on Monday the 12th instant.

The case is mentioned in an article of when Maud Gonne attempted and failed to get a Divorce from Major John MacBride [ref]. Note (added later): This is interesting because Aubrey and Maud’s great grandchildren married

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from: Journals of the House of Commons (1906)

19th March
The Lords have passed a Bill, intituled An “Divorce Bill
Act to dissolve the Marriage of Elizabeth
[Lords.]
Caroline Wallis with Henry Aubrey Beaumont Wallis, commonly called Aubrey Wallis, her present husband, and to enable her to marry again, and for other purposes ; to which the Lords desire the concurrence of this House.
Wallis’ Wallis’ Divorce Bill [Lords] was read the Divorce Bill
first time; and ordered to be read a second
[Lords.]
time.

5th April:
The Lord Advocate reported from the Select Committee on Divorce Bills; That they had Wallis’ examined the allegations, of Wallis’ Divorce Bill Divorce Bill [Lords] as to the Marriage of the parties, the
[Lords.] adultery and cruelty charged as the ground for dissolving the Marriage, the sentence of Divorce, a mensa et thoro, in the Probate and Matrimonial Division of the High Court of Justice in Ireland ; and, upon evidence satisfactory to the Committee, had found the same and the other allegations to be true ; and saw no reason to suspect collusion between the parties; and that the Committee had gone through the Bill, and directed him to report the same, without Amendment.
Ordered, That the Report do lie upon the
Table. Ordered, That the Bill be read the third time. Ordered, That the Minutes of Evidence and
Proceedings in the House of Lords on the Second Reading of Wallis’ Divorce Bill [Lords],together with the Documents deposited in each case, be returned to the House of Lords : And that the Clerk do carry the same.β€” (The Lord Advocate.)

6th April:
Wallis’ Divorce Bill [Lords] was read the Wallis’ third time and passed. Divorce Bill
Ordered, That the Clerk do carry the Bill to\ Lords^ the Lords ; and acquaint them that this Ho

WALLIS’ DIVORCE [Lords]; Bill, intituled An Act to dissolve the Marriage of Elizabeth Caroline Wallis with Henry Aubrey Beaumont Wallis, commonly called Aubrey Wallis, her present husband, and to enable her to marry again, and for other purposes ; brought from the Lords, 72. Read the first time, 72. Read a second time, and committed, 85. Message to the Lords requesting Copies of Minutes of Evidence, &c. ; Instruction to Committee relative to Counsel and Witnesses, 86. Minutes of Evidence, &c. communicated, 101. Bill reported, without Amendment; Minutes of Evidence, &c. to be returned to the Lords, 122. Bill read the third time and passed, 126. (Cited as Wallis’ Divorce Act, 1906) Royal Assent, 220.

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Read our profile on Henry Aubrey Beaumont Wallis

See the Wallis Family Lineage (1595-present)

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TODO: Clean up this article a little

7 thoughts on “Irish Divorce Suit”

  1. An interesting Piece of history you have come up with here Michael it does seem the so called honorable Henry was a bit of a high class ruffian, were he around today he would be a prime Candidate for presidency of the underground ‘Irish Wife Beaters Club’

  2. lol Just looked up on Ancestry to see if they have a family tree and he is on there, Showing up a sisterξš„Eva Violet Amelia Gwen Willoughby Wallis married Edgar St John Christophers

    Will Email you their Divorce documents πŸ™‚

    Ranks could be got different ways (and I expect brought), my Gr Gr Grandfather was a Captain, but worked his life in a building as chief Draftsman in the admiralty, he got his rank I believe through his hobby of shooting.

  3. Michael,

    I read with interest your article about the Wallis family. I wonder if during your research you came across any male member of the family, say from 1880 onwards, who died after being thrown from a horse on the Drishane estate.

    Could you also say who was the last Wallis to reside in Drishane and when he/she left.

    Freddie

    1. The last Wallis family of Drishane was Aubrey, mentioned in the article above, though he probably spent more of his time away, than in the castle. It seems the reasons for leaving were basically a lack of funds. First mention of bankrupcy (entry into Chancery) are from about 1882, and it dragged on an on, due to the favouritism shown by the judge. In 1894 lands part owned by Aubrey in Castleconnell, Limerick were sold by the “Land Judges of the High Court”. In 1901, all premesis in town were sold. By 1903 Aubrey was a tenant at Drishane. (Have maps etc and must publish). In 1908 the Castle and surrounding lands were sold to the Sisters of the Infant Jesus. It seems that the Deer Park (the hill behind St.Mary’s graveyard) was the last of the Wallis lands to be sold (1912).

      I haven’t heard of one of the Wallis died after being thrown from a horse, but it wouldn’t be a surprise, as all the Wallis’ seem to be mentioned as fine horsemen, and are pictured on/with horses to this day.

  4. My Son, Thomas John Wallis (the 13th) is in essence the heir of Drishane Castle and rights of such… He is the last heir to the Thomas John Wallis lineage

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