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Balfour Qualtrough's Divorce Case in 1935 - by Malcolm Qualtrough

Article copied from the Advertiser (Hurstbridge), Friday 25 October 1935


See Chart of Descendants for Edward

See also Balfour's Biography


Divorce Proceedings Begun and Abandoned


Wife Refuses Home: Claim Dismissed

There were remarkable features in the evidence in the maintenance case at the Northcote Court on October 15.

The parties had never made a home, and lived together only at occasional week-ends. In November 1933 after the wife had been watched by private inquiry agents the husband commenced divorce proceedings and he alleged that his wife brought alout a conciliation by a trick; that she accepted the home he offered her, and arfter staynlg for four days, broke tihe agrement and left him.

In court the wife refused the home her husband offered at Wattle Glen.

The Parties:

Ethel May Qualtrough, Asthurton road, Northcote, sued her husband,Balfour Gordon Qualtrough, of Wattle Glen, for maintenance. Mrs Qualtrough said: I married defendant on October 27, 1927.

Marriage a Secret:

Prior to the ceremony I told defendant I would not be able to live with him on acount of the illness of my aged mother; and he said he did not want his people to know-so we decided to keep the marriage a secret until we could live together.

At the time he was in the railways, and after several transfers he transferred to the Police Department. When my husband was in Melbourne I used to cook his meals four or five times a week, and I saw him every night, and at some week-ends I stayed with him. In conformity with our arrangement to keep the marriage secret, when he wrote to me he adressed his letters to "Mrs E. Vincent."

Husband Takes Over Farm:

About the middle of 1932 his father died and he went to Wattle Glen to take over the orchard. He said to me "I can't have you up there." Divorce Proccedings Commenced Towards the end of 1933 he asked me to go to Wattle Glen to live with him. I asked for time to make arrangenents, but in November, 1933, he commenced divorce proceedings.

A week after the proceedings were started I saw him in Melbourne and we talked things over.

Holidays at Wattle Glen:

At his invitation I went to Wattle Glen during the Christmas holidays for several days.

Divorce Discussed:

Whilst there we discussed the di rorce proceedings. He asked me not to defend the suit but to let it go on, as he was "in" for$91.76to$122.35and he wanted to recover this money.

Promised to Re--Marry:

He promised that if the divorce went through, he would re-marry me. I eventually agreed. We made arrangements to meet in January, and he said "It wouldn't be wise to be seen with you in view of the divorce proceedings." and we decided to meet at Royal Park.

"You'll Have to Go."

After staying at Wattle Glen for several days he said to me, "My sis ter is coming back tomorrow. You'll have to go." He did not take me to Wattle Glen station, as he did not want to be seen with me. but took me at night to Eltham, where he wasn't known.

Meeting at Royal Park:

On the day arranged we met at Royal Park station, and walked into Royal Park. We had been there for about half an hour when a man named Mouat, who had been cited as the co-respondent in the divorce proceedings, came along with a numher of other persons.

After he had gone, my husband gave me his bank book and asked me to work to help pay off what ne had spent on the divorce proceedings. He arranged to meet me on the following night, but did not keep the appointment. I did not see him again until to-day.

Whilst at Wattle Glen I said to hin "You know that your allegations about my conduct are untrue." He I replied, "Yes. I know that, but I want to go on and get back the money I have put into it."

The Husband's Version:

Qualtrough said: After leaving the police force, I worked as a contractor, and subsequently with my wife I bought a pastry and cake business at Richmond. She used to assist me there, but would not live with me. although there was a residence attached, giving as an excuse that she had to look after her aged mother. At last I got "fed up" and we sold the business. I gave her money from time to time, and part of the proceeds of the sale of the business. When I was worklting I gave her various moneys from time to time ranging from$1.53to 15.

Finally I went to Wattle Glen in June, 1932, to conduct my father's orchard. I used to come to Melbourne and meet my wife twice a week, but found the travelling trying.

Forbidden the House:

I was not allowed to go to her house, as I was not popular there, but had to wait at the corner of Albert street, Brunswick, until she came to me. On the night of September 27, 1933, between 10 and 11 p.m., I was waiting for mly wife, when I saw a man and woman in the shadows in a side street. I recognised my wife, and going up to the man I said "Do you know that you are with my wife."

A Friend of the Famlly:

My wife caught my coat, and said to the man, "Go on, Jack. Get away." Before I could get my coat free from my wife's grip the man had disappeared. She said the man was "a friend of the family."

Private Enquiry Agents Watch:

Becoming suspicious, I gave instructions to a firm of private inqulry agents, and on the night of November 15 I followed my wife to a park at East Brunswick. From what I saw there I instructed my solicitors to issue divorce proceedings, citing Mouat as co-respondent.

On the afternoon of December 15 I was in Bourke street, when my wife came up and took my arm. She began to talk, and I told her that the street was no place to discuss our private affairs. We then got a room. I asked what she meant by her conduct, and she said she was sorry for what had happened.

Making Up the Money Spent:

She asked me to drop the dlvorce proceedings, and she promised to go to work to help make up the money I had spent. She also agreed to come and live with me. After that I forgave her.

"Same Old Story Again."

During the New Year week-.end she came to Wattle Glen and stayed for a few days. Then she said she would have to go back to her parents. and I said, "That sounds like the same old story again." She said "It won't be for very long, and then we'll be very happy. "My mother is very ill."

I arranged to meet her at the Royal Park station a few nights later, and during that interview Mlouat and a number of witnesses came along.

Husband ill: Wife, Shifts:

After a discussion my wife and I parted on friendly terms. I met her several times during January, and then I went down with sciatica. After being treated at Wattle Glen for a fortnight, I was admitted to the Melbourne Hospital and remained there for 11 weeks. When I recovered I could not find my wife, as she had shifted. I did not know her where-abouts until the summons was issued.

I want her to return to me, and have a good home for her at Wattle Glen.

Wife an Unreliable Witness:

After hearing further evidence, the P.M. (Mr It. E. O'Grady) said that he felt that the wife was an unreliable witness, and that where her evidence conflicted with that of the husband, he accepted the husband's evidence.

The claim was dismissed.

© 2021 by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough. 

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© Copyright by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough.