Kōrero: Marriage and partnering

Marital desertion

Marital desertion

In 1886 Christchurch publican W. H. Messenger ran off to Melbourne with a barmaid, leaving a wife and six children behind. Within a few months he was brought back to New Zealand to face a charge of desertion. The case was abandoned when the magistrate decided that Mrs Messenger could not give evidence against her husband. Within three weeks she gave him a taste of his own medicine, going to Auckland and leaving him to care for the children. Mr Messenger accused her of stealing £35 worth of his furniture (everything in the family home was legally his), which she likely sold to fund her trip. When the case went to court the magistrate declined to issue a warrant for Mrs Messenger’s arrest. It was, he said, a ‘remarkable’ case, showing ‘the topsy-turvey home of married life’. (Grey River Argus, 10 July 1886, p. 2)

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National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past
Reference: Grey River Argus, 18 June 1886, p. 2

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Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Megan Cook, 'Marriage and partnering - Marriage, 1900 to the 1960s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/document/30779/marital-desertion (accessed 14 November 2019)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011, updated 4 May 2017