Subjects: Separation from bed and board

Although there was no procedure whereby a marriage could be ended by divorce, as we know it today, there were some circumstances, most frequently infidelity or cruelty, in which a formal separation could be awarded by the church courts, this was often referred to as a ‘divorce’.

Sometimes arrangements were made for the payment of alimony to the wife for the rest of her life.


R. H. Helmholz, Marriage Litigation in Medieval England, (London, 1974).

Ralph Houlbrooke, Church Courts and the People during the English Reformation , (Oxford, 1979).

Adultery by the husband

EDC 5/1/2 – Elizabeth Levar contra Adam Levar

Adultery by the wife

EDC 5/1580/2 – Thomas Darcie, gentleman, contra Cecily Darcie
EDC 5/1580/3 – Thomas Darcie, gentleman, contra Cecily Darcie

Adultery and cruelty by the husband

EDC 5/1/5 – Anne Orell contra Piers Orrell
EDC 5/1580/1 – Elizabeth Cowley alias Johnson, wife of Richard Cowley alias Johnson, contra Richard Cowley alias Johnson