Adultery and divorce

…meet me at the bridge about 8 O’clock…
[extract from postcard]

I only wish you would forgive me as I know I was to blame…
[extract from letter]

William (Will) Boffey (a carter) and his wife Amelia (Mill) lived in Erskineville with their three children. Between August 1913 and January 1915, Mill had an affair with Bert Reynolds, a labourer from Redfern. By mid-1914 Will had found out about the affair, and initiated divorce proceedings in August 1914. The divorce was granted on the grounds of adultery, and a Decree Absolute was issued in March 1916, with Will obtaining custody of their three children.
Major amendments to Divorce legislation during the 1890s provided greater opportunities for working class people to obtain a divorce.
The postcard and letter are included in the divorce file. With the postcard we see evidence of the secret assignations with lover Bert. The heartfelt letter from Mill shows she is remorseful, and was hoping for a reconciliation with her estranged husband Will.


Source: NRS 13495 Divorce and matrimonial cause case papers, 1873-1978 file no. 443 (Boffey v Boffey), 1914. Postcard from Bert Reynolds to Amelia Boffey (known as Mill), and letter from Amelia Boffey to William (Will) Boffey

TRANSCRIPT

POSTCARD
Lift the card up
and see the view                         on our Last
Trip to the
caves to day
Dear Mill
Just a line to tell you the time
is drawing nigh most litely [sic] I will
be home early on Wednesday afternoon
if so I will send you the wire meet me
at the bridge about 8 o’clock and
wait a little wile [sic] in case I might
be abit late in getting away Good Bye
Fond Love from Bert

LETTER
2 Knight Street
Erskineville
Will
I know you will think I have no rights
to write to you but I would have liked to
have had a talk to you but as you told me
I ought to be ashamed to look you in the
face to tell you the truth I am and I feel
sorry for what I have done you know Will
it is the first mistake I have made and
I take fine care it will be the last I only
wish I had have died I know you think it don’t
worry me but know one knows only myself what
I have went through since you have spoken
about the divorce you know Will you are
not faultless I think you must have some
one else or you would not be so anxious
to part from me for ever. I know you will
never forgive me for what I have done and
I never thought that I would have ever gave
you the chance to go for one but I hope
that the other one that has caused my
trouble will have twice as much to go
through. I wish I had taken your advice
2
at first but I thought I knew best.
If you never lived with me for the
rest of your life you need not have done what
you have, I don’t know what to do about those
papers I don’t want to go down and I would never
like to have to part with my children even if you
never kept them, Even with all you have done
to me I don’t think I will ever forget you. If you
care about coming over to see me any night
through the week as I would like to speak
to you you could drop me a line if you care
about it you know Will you are still my
Husband although there is a difference
between us you make me feel terrible
miserable every time I see you. I think this
is about all just at present I could write
twice as much to you but I would
sooner say what I have to say to you.
So I will draw to a close
hoping to see you soon or hear
from you for my sake and
the childrens Good night
I only wish you
would forgive
me as I know
I was to
blame
PS if you                          I Remain
don’t care about                 Still yours Mill
coming over write to
me

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