2020-03-18 13:16:27 UTC
In 1594 John Aske brought a case before the ecclesiastical court of York for the annulment of his marriage to Christiana (Fairfax) on the grounds of her adultery.
The Cause Papers do not say what the outcome was.
John and Christiana had a child, Robert Aske, born in 1600, so apparently they were still married at this point, but shortly after this date Christiana refers to herself in Chancery cases as Christiana Aske (late the wife of John Aske), and John appears to have remarried to a Margaret William, daughter of the Rev. Leonard John Williams (marriage not found).
John Aske died in 1606 and in his will he leaves to his wife (sic), Margaret Williams £6000, and £500 to his daughter by her, another Margaret, and all his lands to his son Robert Aske, then aged 6.
From this date onwards Christiana does not refer to herself in legal documents as 'late the wife of John Aske', but as the 'widow of John Aske'.
Margaret died in 1608, and in her will she describes herself as 'Margaret Aske als Gullimo widdow late wife and executrix of John Aske Esquire and daughter of John Guillym of London Esquire' and leaves all she has to her daughter Margaret, and does not mention her stepson, Robert Aske, who went on to be a member of the Middle Temple.
Could marriages be annulled due to adultery after the Reformation? [Why bring a case before the ecclesiastical courts if it could not?]. And if they could, what would be the legal position concerning the legitimacy of a son born in wedlock, but before the adultery took place that led to the annulment?