Thomas vs Thomas Divorce
Although commonplace today, divorce was not considered such in the early 1900's. Under
the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1899 a divorce required two decrees; Decree Nisi and Decree
On 20th October 1905 Margaret Alice Thomas, who for the course of the hearing was
referred to Alice Margaret Thomas as this was the name under which she had married,
petitioned the Supreme Court of NSW, Matrimonial Causes Jurisdiction, for a dissolution of
her marriage to Henry Thomas, custody of their children and 'such further relief in the
premises[?]' as the judge saw fit. The petition was made by Edward Joseph Spears, Solicitor,
of 25 Edward Street, Sydney on behalf of Margaret Thomas.
In her petition Margaret declared the following:
1: That she had been lawfully married to Henry Thomas according to the Rites of the Church
2: That both she and her husband had been born in Sydney and had lived there for upwards
of three years
3: That they had issue of their marriage; two children Jane Alice aged 5 and Alexander John
4: That on or about 25th June 1902, Henry Thomas had, without just cause or excuse,
wilfully deserted her and without just cause or excuse had continually so deserted her ever
Her Petition then requests:
1: The Judge decree their marriage dissolved.
2: That custody of the children be granted to Margaret
3: That she may receive such further and other relief in the [premises?] as the judge may
seem meet [sic]
Her address at the time was 33 Cowper Street, Waverley and her occupation was Domestic
Timeline of Events:
9th October 1905: Alice Margaret Thomas made the following statement:
I am the applicant for an order remitting the fees in proceedings for the Dissolution of
My husband is a general labourer but I do not know whether he is in employment at present
or where he is.
I am a domestic in the employ of Mrs Ellen Brown of 33 Cowper Street Waverley and receive
10 shillings per week wages besides my keep.
I am not possessed of any property or furniture of any description whatsoever besides
wearing apparel. The main portion of my wages go to the support of my 2 children Jane Alice
and Alexander John Thomas and the balance goes to necessary wearing apparel etc.
6th November 1905 Alice Margaret Thomas made the following statement:
My husband left me at no 8 Edward Street Waverley Sydney towards the end of June 1902
and went to Randwick where he remained about 2 months. Where he then went I am unable
In the month of September 1902 I enquired of William Gullum? of Randwick, my husbands
last employer there as to his whereabouts. He couldn't tell me nothing. [William Gullam,
horse trainer of Helena Street Randwick - 1903 Electoral Roll - FMP]
In the month of September 1902 I enquired of Mrs Gooch, wife of William Gooch of Oberon
Street Randwick who was well acquainted with my husband but she could tell me nothing.
About the same time I made enquiries of Mrs Farley of Oberon Street Randwick [probably
Mrs Margaret Farrelly of Oberon Street who appears in the 1903 Electoral Roll - FMP] who
was well acquainted with my husband and about 3 times each year up to the present have
made similar enquiries but she could tell me nothing of my husbands whereabouts.
Towards the end of the year 1902 I made enquiries of Mrs Prentice, wife of William
Prentice then residing at Randwick [William Prentice of Oberon Street Randwick, labourer
1903 Electoral Roll - FMP]who was well acquainted with my husband as to his whereabouts
and she said she saw him about a week previously with some luggage and he said he was
going to the country but did not say to what part. I have made similar enquiries of Mrs
Prentice about half a dozen times since, up to about twelve months ago when she left
Randwick but she could give me no more information.
About the beginning of July this year I enquired of Charles Harris of Oberon Street
Randwick, labourer and he said he had been in a different part of the country in NSW with
him and that he had received a letter about 3 months previously from Yerranderie NSW. I
saw the said Charles Harris about a week ago and he had heard nothing further from my
husband. Charles Harris also made a statement on 28th October 1905 confirming the above.
About 12 months after my husband left me I enquired of his father John Alexander Thomas
of Elizabeth Street Waterloo as to his whereabouts and have made several enquiries of him
since then, but he could give me no information. On or about the 15th day of September las
I enquired of his father again and he informed me that my husband had stayed there about
a week previously for 3 days but had gone away and did not say where he was going. On the
6th day of October instant I again enquired of his father but he said he could tell me nothing
of his whereabouts. John Alexander Thomas also made a sworn statement on 21st October
1905 as to the above and again stated he knew nothing of the whereabouts of his son at that
On the 11th day of October instant I made enquiries of Frederick Andrews, ?French? Street
Kogarah, horse trainer, as to my husbands whereabouts and he said he had received a letter
from a friend of his Samuel Barlow of Yerranderie in which it was stated that he Barlow had
not seen or heard of my husband since he left Yeranderie. When he left Yerranderie was not
stated in the letter. Catherine Charlotte Dyer, of Walsh's Terrace, The Avenue, Randwick,
domestic, also made a statement the same day that she was with Alice Margaret Thomas
when she spoke to Frederick Andrews.
21st December 1905: The following notice was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on
21st December and again in January.
27th February 1906 Alice Margaret Thomas stated:
On Monday 18th December last I left a copy of the petition and citation herein at the house
of the Respondents father John Alexander Thomas of Elizabeth Street Waterloo Sydney with
the said John Alexander Thomas in accordance with the order of this honourable court dated
15th day of December last.
26th March 1906: Alice Margaret Thomas stated:
As above and calling on respondent [Henry Thomas] to call upon her solicitor on or before
15th February 1906.
21st May 1906: Henry Thomas failed to appear at court and a decree nici is granted giving
Henry Thomas 6 months to appeal the decision. During that time Alice was not allowed to
remarry. Custody of the children was granted to Alice Margaret.
21st November 1906: Decree Absolute granted. Respondent [Henry Thomas] to pay costs.
Yerranderie was formerly a silver mining town of 2000 people, but the mining industry
collapsed in 1927, and the town was cut off from direct access from Sydney by the
establishment of the Warragamba Dam and Lake Burragorang in 1959. The Yerranderie Post
Office opened on 1 November 1899 and closed in 1958. It is now a 'ghost town' [Wikipedia]