The Honorable John Hugo Russell and his wife Christabel had a thoroughly modern marriage.  She had led a sheltered life, and did not want children immediately. She had requested, and gotten, John's  promise that they would not have sexual intercourse for the first two years.  This seemed to satisfy John, who buried his frustration by attending numerous "fancy dress" balls -- dressed as a woman. To their dismay, Christabel turned up pregnant.  In 1922, John accused her of adultery and took her to court. She denied any infidelity. She wasn't sure, but there had been times she and her husband had gotten very close to having sex. She didn't understand that heavy foreplay could make a baby. The trial proceeded in a flurry of counterclaims of "modern" sexual mores. Things seemed settled when two gynecologists who had attended Christabel testified that she had been technically still a virgin. The court found her not guilty. Soon after John tried again, naming a new person as corespondent. This jury found her not guilty of adultery with that person, but guilty of committing it with somebody.  The final appeal to the House of Lords turned everything around again, but too late to save her reputation, or the marriage.

next page

Escape Clause