Sunday, May 25, 2014

So what did I find in these divorce papers?

Grantham, Ignatius and Catherine Sheffield divorce 1825-01

The papers aren’t the easiest to read.  The script is good but the copies are pretty light.  There is  nothing earth-shattering but interesting nonetheless. Unfortunately, there seems to be a few things missing from the file and I am pretty sure that the Marion County Chancery Court has the missing documents.  Unlike the Marion County Circuit Court, the Marion County Chancery Court isn’t the easiest to deal with.  I have already sent them a written request but I haven’t heard back from them which doesn’t surprise me in the least.

If you would like to read about what divorce laws were in effect during this time in the State of Mississippi then click HERE.   It is always a good idea to get some background info regarding the law when you are looking at court documents.   Scroll up to the bottom of page 74 to find the beginning of this section.  These laws were passed 14 June 1822.


18 February 1825 – Bill for divorce filed in Marion County

The petition (undated but most likely 18 February 1825) makes the following declarations:

  • Oratrix: Catherine Grantham of Jackson County, Mississippi by her “next friend” William C. Seamons (This is interesting because Catherine goes on to marry William)
  • Ignatius and Catherine were married on 09 October 1810 (I have their marriage record so this does match)
  • They lived together as man and wife for nine years after the marriage
  • “…soon after said intermarriage, the said Ignatius Grantham, disregarding the sanctity of his vows & the rights & duties incident to the married State, committed the crime of adultery with one Lavinia Grantham & with divers other lewd women to your Oratrix unknown.”  (Oh my!)
  • “… the said Ignatius hath willingly, constantly & obstinately deserted & abandoned your Oratrix.”
  • Catherine asks for a divorce and equity (money)

21 February 1825 – Ignatius is ordered to appear in court on “…the third Monday in August next...”

5 April 1825 – The sheriff [Marion County] returns the subpoena stating “not found within my county.”

16 August 1825 – affidavit of J. H. Morris stating “…the defendant in the case Catherine Grantham vs. Ignatius Grantham is a resident of Greene County Alabama to the best of his knowledge.”

10 September 1827 – Order to the Jackson County Sheriff to collect court costs from Catherine Grantham  “…command you that of the goods and Chattels Lands and Tennents of Wm. C. Seaman for Catherine Grantham – late of your county you make or cause to be made the sum of twelve Dolars and Six & a fourth – cents…”  A detailed list of court costs is given.  So does late mean dead or just not a resident of this county anymore.  According to the date of Catherine’s marriage to William C. Seamon and the date on Catherine’s tombstone it means not a resident of this county anymore.  Catherine supposedly married William C. Seaman on 02 November 1828 in Rankin County.  I have ordered their marriage license/certificate.

September Term 1827 – $11.18 3/4 due.

30 May 1829  - Order to the Hancock County Sheriff to collect court costs from Catherine Grantham  “…command you that of the goods and Chattels Lands and Tennents of Wm. C. Seaman for Catherine Grantham – late of your county you cause to be made the sum of Twenty Three Dollars Three & 3/4 Cents…”  The money was due the first Monday of November.  A detailed list of court costs is given.  

09 June 1829 – William Seaman paid the Sheriff $12.06/4

23 September – $5.00 received

26 September 1829 – a writ was levied “on one negro girl pointed out by the defendant, named Chancy[?]’'

17 November 1829 – Received of the Sheriff of Hancock County $12.12 “in full.”


Catherine filed for divorced from Ignatius citing adultery.  I assume the divorce was granted since Catherine goes on to marry William C. Seaman (missing papers in Marion County?).  Catherine ends up paying court costs and she also is ordered to give up a slave.  I really need the Marion County file for a more complete picture.

So the big question is…. WHO IS LAVINIA GRANTHAM?   She has the same last name as Ignatius which of course intrigues me.  I don’t have her in my file yet so I am on the hunt.  I want to know who she was.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis





  1. Fascinating stuff!
    "late of your county" = previously a resident of
    Does look like pieces are missing. Really curious about the 26 Sep writ concerning Chancy. The 'defendent' here is Ignatius? Or is this a related side-issue to the divorce action?
    And Lavinia! When you get more info, please let us know.

    1. The defendant is Ignatius. It looks like Ignatius was awarded the slave as part of the settlement. This is why I want the Marion County papers so bad. Initially Catherine asked for a divorce and "equity" which means she was looking for some sort of monetary support which makes it a bit odd that she lost the slave.

  2. Interesting! My Ignatius Matthew Grantham (1st cousin 7X removed) was born in 1758 but I have no spouse (yet) and no firm date of death. Other unsourced trees show Ignatius as having married a "Catherine" in 1810. I usually find that where's there smoke there's fire. But I also realize that you have to find a lot of smoke to find the real fire.... Is there any evidence that your Ignatius was born in 1758, son of Richard and Sarah? It seems that Richard and Sarah were born in Virginia but died n Robeson County, north Carolina.

    1. I don't have a solid birth year for my Ignatius yet other than he would have been born before 1790 (that would put him at least 21 years old at the time of his marriage to Catherine). I am working on the premise that Ignatius is the son of John Grantham and Mary (possibly Brown). John Grantham does have a will per the Wilkes County, John's will shows up in a will index as having been in Will Book DD which was subsequently lost. I am not sure I will be able to find the will but you never know. Wilkes County probate is online so I need to take a look.

  3. I'm with Linda Schreiber, fascinating stuff! Look forward to learning more about what you find.

  4. I think this is a direct part of our family line.