Naughty – Adultery and Scandal

I could place quite a few ancestors in the “naughty” category, but for this post I am going to highlight two of them who were particularly naughty: Cornelius Daugherty and his eventual wife, Mary Lynch.

I know very little about either Cornelius or Mary’s backgrounds. Cornelius was likely a part of the Daugherty family who migrated from Ireland to Augusta County, Virginia and eventually moved to Kentucky and Tennessee. He was born between 1790 and 1799 and died between the 1840 and 1850 census. I know nothing about Mary Lynch’s parentage. She was born about 1804 in either Virginia or Tennessee and died between the 1870 and 1880 census.

The first, and by far most interesting, record I have of Cornelius and Mary is a legislative petition submitted by Margaret S. Hamilton Daugherty, Cornelius’s first wife. Cornelius and Margaret were married before 1827, when she applied to the Tennessee legislature to obtain a divorce from Cornelius. In the petition, Margaret accused Cornelius not only of being a habitual drunk, but also of having an extramarital affair with a woman named Mary Lynch. Her petition contained the signatures of 13 men who supported her claims. Poor Margaret!

I am assuming that she obtained her divorce. As early marriage records of Overton County are missing due to a courthouse fire, I do not know if Cornelius and Mary made their relationship legal or not. In 1830 and 1840, Cornelius headed households where he was the male between 30 and 39 and 40 and 49 respectively, and Mary was the female between 20 and 29 and 30 and 39. The unnamed children in the household in 1830 and 1840 may have been Cornelius’s children from his marriage with Margaret (I don’t know if they had children or not), children that Cornelius and Mary had while Cornelius was still married to Margaret, and/or children Cornelius and Mary had after their marriage or in their ensuing relationship.

Mary Daugherty and her daughters in the 1850 census.

By the 1850 census, Cornelius had died possibly due to his hard living lifestyle, and Mary Lynch, listed as Mary Daugherty, aged 57, was living with five other girls. I assume they were all her daughters: Lucinda (24), Emily (16), Mary (13), Martha (13), and Vianah (10) Daugherty. I do know for a fact that both Mary and Martha were the daughters of Cornelius and Mary, and they parents are both named on each of the daughters’ death certificates. Emily and Vianah are also close in age to Mary and Martha, so I am assuming that their parents are also Cornelius and Mary. Lucinda, though 8 years older than Emily, also shared the last name Daugherty, and she was born in 1838, more than 10 years after the divorce petition of Margaret Daugherty. Lucinda, therefore, was likely not a child of Margaret’s. As the family used the surname Daugherty, I am assuming that after Cornelius’s divorce from Margaret, he and Mary Lynch were in fact legally married.

Mary Jane Daugherty Williams’s parents listed on her death certificate.

Sadly, I have not found out what happened to Cornelius’s daughters Emily or Vianah, but both Mary and Martha (my ancestor) married, had children, and lived long lives. Lucinda seemed to go the way of her mother. She also had an extramarital relationship in her early 20s which produced a son, John. The father is still unknown. In the 1870 census, she is recorded living with her mother, Mary, in Overton County. Mary disappears from records after this time.

I would say that Cornelius and Mary were definitely naughty considering the lives they led and they way they went about beginning their family!