Vivian v. Vivian and the Marquis of Waterford

The petitioner John Cranch Vivian, prayed in the Divorce Court on August 4 for a dissolution of his marriage with Florence Grosvenor Vivian, on the ground of her adultery with the Marquis of Waterford. The respondent and co-respondent had filed answers traversing the allegations in the petition.

Tho Solicitor General, Mr. Prentice, Q.C. and Dr. Swabey appeared for the petitioner; Dr. Spinks, Q.C., for the respondent; and Sir J. B. Karslake, Q.C. and Dr. Tristram for the co-respondent.

Mr. Prentice opened the case in the absence of the Solicitor-General. He stated that the petitioner was the Hon. Mr. Vivian, M.P. for Truro, and a Lord of the Treasury. In June, 1861, he married the respondent, who was the daughter of Major Rowley, of the East India Company's service. They lived very happily together after the marriage, and up to the autumn of last year they generally resided with Lady Kinnoul, in Belgrave-square. In 1863 Captain Vivian became acquainted with the Marquis of Waterford, and they were subsequently on very friendly terms together. The marquis was a young man of 25 or 26 years of age. Captain and Mrs. Vivian sometimes visited him at his seat at Curraghmore, in Ireland... The first intimation that Captain Vivian ever received of his wife's infidelity was on the 4th of March, 1869, when two letters were forwarded to him, one in the handwriting of his wife, and the other in the handwriting of the marquis. The learned counsel was about to read these letters, but Sir J. Karslake and Dr. Spinks objected to their being read until it had been shown that they were admissible in evidence.

Mr. Prentice yielded to the objection and proceeded with his statement without reading them. Immediately after the discovery of these letters the marquis and Mrs. Vivian went off together. Captain Vivian was then residing at 16, Lowndes-street. He employed a detective to ascertain whither they had gone, and they were traced to Calais, and thence to Paris, where they were staying at the Hotel Westminster. Captain Vivian, accompanied by Mrs. Knight, a sister of Mrs. Vivian, immediately went to the Grand Hotel at Paris. Mrs. Knight had an interview with Mrs. Vivian at the Hotel Westminster, and tried to induce her to leave the marquis and return to England for the sake of the children, there being three children of the marriage, but Mrs. Vivian declined. Mrs. Vivian then had an interview with Captain Vivian at the Grand Hotel, but what passed at that interview could not be proved, as the parties could not be examined. But immediately after the interview Mrs. Vivian wrote this letter to her husband :

“5 o'clock. — I cannot go. I have tried and tried to give him up, and, against his own urgent advice, I shall stay. For God's sake don't think too hardly of me, and don't let any one come near me or I shall do myself some harm. I am going to my ruin, I know, but it is impossible for me to go back. Try and forgive me in your heart. I could not look at those poor children after what I have done, and do not send for me, for heaven's sake.”

Her sister Mrs. Knight again saw her, and she then confessed her guilt. She continued to live with the marquis at the Hotel Westminster, and they were served there with the citation in the suit.

The following witnesses were called :
The Dowager Countess Kinnoul — I have known Captain and Mrs. Vivian for several years, and was present at their marriage at St. Paul's Knightsbridge. They lived with me until last summer or autumn, and they had three children. They lived on most affectionate terms. The Marquis of Waterford visited them. I saw nothing to lead me to suppose that there was anything wrong between Mrs. Vivian and the marquis. Last year Captain and Mrs. Vivian went to live at 16, Lowndes-street.

Henry Smith — I am a retired sergeant of detectives. On Friday, the 5th March, 1869, I traced the Marquis of Waterford and Mrs. Vivian to Calais. I went to Calais with Captain Vivian and Mrs. Knight, and we found they had gone to Paris, and we followed them. I found them at the Hotel Westminster.

Mr. Foley, a brother-in-law of Captain Vivian, proved that Captain Vivian was very much distressed when Mrs. Vivian left her home.

Mrs. Knight, the sister of Mrs. Vivian who accompanied Captain Vivian to Paris, said — I saw my sister at the Hotel Westminster, and told her I had come to fetch her back. She said she would not go back. After awhile I told her that Captain Vivian was in Paris, and she said she would see him. She went to the Grand Hotel and had an interview with him. I was not present at it. Soon after she left the Grand Hotel she sent him a letter. I saw her again the next day at the Hotel Westminster. I asked her to come back to her children, but she refused to leave the marquis. She has never since returned to England.

Lord Penzance — The adultery is plainly proved. I pronounce a decree nisi with costs against the co-respondent.

Vivian v. Vivian and the Marquis of Waterford
Maitland Mercury - Thursday 28 October 1869