One of the briefest
sessions of the Supreme Court held here in years was that before the
Honourable Mr. Justice McEvoy on Monday when court, after opening at one
o'clock, adjourned a few minutes after two and His Lordship was
able to depart. During his stay here he heard the divorce case of
Hammond versus Hammond and granted a decree to become effective in six
There was another
case up for trial, an action involving Windham people. However, E. W.
Cross of Simcoe, appearing for one of the litigants, stated that owing
to unforeseen circumstances it was impossible to proceed, and an
adjournment requested was granted by His Lordship.
Those who attended
the divorce hearing in the expectation of either witnessing or hearing
anything unusual by virtue of it being the first of its kind in Norfolk,
were surely disappointed. With the exception of the fact that no defense
whatever was offered, the case was the same as any other civil action,
and it required but 55 minutes to convince His Lordship that the desire
of the plaintiff should be complied with.
Hammond of Walsingham township was the plaintiff while his former wife,
Margueretta Burke Hammond was co-defendant with Frank W. Thompson. The
grounds of suit were that the defendant had deserted her husband without
cause and had since misconducted herself with her co-defendant.
The first witness
called was Frederick G. Haskett of St. Williams who testified that he
had served the writ, affidavit, and statement of claim to the defendents,
both of whom he has known for periods of time. "I went to their
place on the townline, he said, "and asked them (the defendants) if
they were married. They both said yes."
It was revealed
that Thompson was generally known by the name Turner, a family of the
latter name having adopted him while he was very young. His rightful
name however, was Thompson.
Story. Subsequently the plaintiff, Bertram Hammond, a young man,
took the stand. He declared that he had married Marguerette Burke on 11
Nov 1914 at the village of Walsingham, the Rev. Ansley Woolley having
been the clergyman, and the license having been procured from Charles
Ross. Prior to her marriage to him, Mrs. Hammond had resided in St.
"After we were
married we lived in South Walsingham," he related. "Then on 25
Aug 1916 she left me and went away. I have never seen her since that
time until today in the courtroom. I had a letter from her from Buffalo
in 1925 and she said that she wanted me to over and see her. I went, but
did not see her."
to prevent you from doing this?" asked H. L. Osborne, counsel for
described how he had been served with a summons to defend himself in a
divorce action instituated against him in the United States by his wife,
just as he was boarding the ferry at Fort Erie. The summons, along with
the final decree which was granted in a Buffalo court on the grounds of
misconduct, were both produced as evidence by the plaintiff. The latter
firmly denied that he was guilty of the charges alleged in the divorce
writ of his wife.
Charles E. Ross of
Walsingham admitted issuing the marriage license to Hammond, who was 30
at the time the ceremony was performed.
Gilliland of St. Williams, an aunt of the defendant unhesitatingly
declared that since Mrs. Hammond had obtained her divorce from the
plaintiff and had subsequently married Thompson, the two had lived
together as man and wife and had visited at her home.
A ripple of laugher
ran through the courtroom as His Lordship interrupted Mr. Osborne who
was questioning Mrs. Gilliland concerning a conversation Mrs. Gilliland
between she and her niece at some time or other. "If divorces were
granted on conversations between women," Justice McEvoy remarked,
"we would be having them all the time."
Ernest S. Shaw of
Brantford and William Shaw of Walsingham South gave evidence that
Thompson and Margueretta Burke Hammond had cohabited during trips to
There was much
interest evidenced when Mrs. Hammond took the stand for a few minutes.
She did not deny the relationship between herself and Thompson (who was
not present) but declared that she had divorced Hammond on the
grounds of adultery and had married Thompson in Buffalo.
"What do you
know about his misconduct, are you prepared to swear that he actually
did misconduct himself?" asked His Lordship.
In summing up,
Justice McEvoy remarked "I have no means of knowing why Mrs. Hammond
left her husband in 1916 but he swears that she did leave him and go to
Buffalo. There, she, by some means was able to persuade a court to
divorce her from her husband living in Ontario. The summons was filed as
an exhibit: a judgment was delivered and she alleged that her husband
was guilty of adultery.
"She says here
that she has no evidence of this, but that he was guilty. It has been
abundantly proven that she has been living with Turner (Thompson) as his
wife. Under these circumstances there is no doubt that she has committed
adultery with Turner and, if what has been sworn to be true, her husband
is entitled to a decree of divorce. The evidence satisfies me that
proceedings have been complied with according to the law."
According to the
finding delivered, the decree will become final after six months has
elapsed at which time a judgment dissolving the marriage can be
Harold L. Osborne
of Simcoe appearing for the plaintiff, conducted the entire case with
considerable credit to himself, insomuch as it was unique in the legal
practice of this county.