Annick Foucrier's "Sailors, Carpenters, Vineyardists" describes a divorce taking place in Santa Cruz shortly after California became part of the United States, dissolving the marriage of Maria Lucia del Carmen Bolcoff and Pierre Richard. Paperwork was filed in 1847 and the divorce was granted in 1852. Did any other civil divorce in the U.S. state of California predate it? (I presume, but am not sure, that the Catholic authorities of Spanish and Mexican period Alta California did not grant divorces.)

  • You should further qualify this question with something like "divorce recognized by a major church". Marriage and divorce historically was an institution controlled by religious institutions.
    – Eric Urban
    Nov 22, 2016 at 13:10
  • 1
    @EricUrban I added some text to clarify that it would have been a civil divorce, in the United States. Nov 22, 2016 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


No, it was not the first.

Sacramento Transcript, Volume 2, Number 29, 27 November 1850:

Divorces in California.— If there is any one spot on earth where less of this kind of thing should take place than another, that place is California. Females have heretofore been so scarce that we should think wives would be more highly esteemed by their husbands, and more closely endeared, so as to render an application for a divorce a novel affair. We observe that in San Francisco, on Saturday, the Superior Court granted a divorce to Mary Dyson from her husband, James Dyson, for various causes. George R. Parburt, Esq., for Plaintiff.

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