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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