This case involved a dispute over how much money a husband owed his wife's family in aliment so that the wife could live with her family and the marriage could remain secret. William Sloan (deceased) and Anne Nielson (the Pursuer) married in secret in 1752 when Nielson was only seventeen. At the time, Sloan was in divinity school and felt that the relationship would be perceived as inappropriate for a man of his upbringing and occupation. Once married, Sloan claimed that revealing his part in a secret or clandestine marriage would be equally fatal to his career. In 1754, he granted bond to Neilson's trustees, her brother and uncle, to pay an annual stipend to Nielson's family to cover her living expenses. During their marriage and until Sloan's death in 1765, Anne Nielson and William Sloan never lived together as husband and wife. Sloan lived and worked as a minister in Dunscore, while Nielson lived with her mother in Edinburgh. When the case came before the Court of Session in 1765, the Court ruled that Sloan, who had died in debt, could only have been expected to pay Anne Nielson what he could reasonably afford, and the Court reduced the yearly payment due to Anne Nielson from the amount claimed by her trustees. The Nielson family appealed this decision. Sloan's executors also argued that due to Nielson's silence about her marriage when Sloan was alive, Sloan's creditors had no knowledge of Sloan's financial obligations to his wife at the time they lent him money, and that her latent claims to aliment were now unjustly delaying repayment of debts due to Sloan's creditors.

Published Reports

William Morison, The Decisions of the Court of Session (1811), pg. 998


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