2nd Great Grandfather Thomas Mara Charged with Extreme Cruelty in Divorce

My 46th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge.

Mara Coat of Arms

My 46th ancestor is my 2nd great grandfather Thomas Mara (1858-1916). Thomas Mara was married to my 2nd great grandmother Anna Sophia Allen (b. 1871), with whom he had two children: William James Mara (1894-1952) and my great grandmother Agnes Viola “Viola” Elizabeth Maud Mara (1893-1971).

In doing a bit of research recently on Anna Sophia Allen, I took a closer look at the marriage and divorce records for my 2nd great grandparents.

Thomas and Anna Sophia married on 6 June 1892 in Guelph, Wellington County, Ontario, Canada. Thomas, a widow, was 34 years of age, worked as a machinist, and was a member of the Church of England. Anna Sophia, single (labeled spinster!), was 20 years of age, and was a member of the Methodist church. Anna had already given birth to illegitimate son Herbert Gerald Allen in 1889.

Not surprisingly, there isn’t even any place for a profession to be listed for the bride in this 1890s marriage register.

Thomas Mara & Anna Sophia Allen Marriage Record
Thomas Mara & Anna Sophia Allen Marriage Record. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

Anna Sophia and Thomas divorced on 4 December 1902. The divorce decree was issued in Michigan, where Anna lived at the time with her children William (age 8) and Viola (age 9). I don’t think Thomas ever immigrated with them to the United States; I find no record of him living here. And I always wondered why Thomas did not immigrate with his wife and children.

It was a closer look at this divorce record (the divorce register, not the actual certificate or court case) that caught me off guard, and perhaps provided an answer to my own question about why Thomas did not immigrate to the U.S. with his family. Sophia was the claimant in the divorce, and filed for it 12 August 1902 under the grounds of “extreme cruelty”. Thomas did not contest the divorce. Sophia’s allegations can lead one to assume that she and the children fled from a violent Thomas.

The register entry is a bit confusing. It indicates that the divorce was still “Pending” at the end of the year. Note how records above and below show a “Granted” status and are not crossed out like the pending ones. This is the only divorce record I find for them. Perhaps there is another corrected entry or follow-up entry somewhere, but I have not found it yet.

Mara Thomas Allen Sophia Allen - Divorce Register - 1902
Divorce register entry for Thomas Mara and Anna Sophia Allen. They are listed on line 222. Courtesy of Ancestry.com

The Pending status made me wonder if maybe the divorce never went through.

Except that Anna Sophia remarried, to John Carr, so she had to have been divorced from Thomas Mara first, right?

Oddly…Anna Sophia Allen married John Carr on 3 December 1902. The day BEFORE her divorce from Mara. So at the very least, my 2nd great grandmother was a bigamist for one day. Or perhaps she was never legally divorced from my 2nd great grandfather, and spent the rest of her marriage to Carr as a bigamist. I will have to keep looking for proof that her divorce from Mara was finalized.

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