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Aquilla Wren was a store owner in Peoria, Illinois in the 1830s and 1840s. He came of note as a result of a divorce proceeding in which Abraham Lincoln was involved.

Divorce proceedings

Aquilla Wren and Clarissa Wren achieved some fame and notoriety as part of a sensational divorce case in Peoria, Illinois. After Aquilla Wren, a merchant in Peoria, divorced Clarissa (Jones) Wren, she pursued an alimony payment from him despite significant cultural and legal obstacles. Even after Aquilla Wren died during the course of the proceedings, Clarissa Wren continued the case, which eventually wound up in the Illinois Supreme Court. [1]

Aquilla Wren (1797-1844) and Clarissa Jones (b. 1811) married in Jackson County, Ohio, in January 1826. In 1830 the Wrens moved to Peoria, where he opened a dry goods store, purchased land, and became one of the town's leading merchants. Abraham Lincoln came to Peoria in 1844 to get involved in the divorce case. Aquilla Wren was granted a decree after a finding by a jury that his wife Clarissa had been guilty of misconduct. Lincoln seems to have come into the case late in the term of court when he assisted Elihu H. Powell and William F. Bryan in their efforts to obtain a new trial.[2]

During the course of the trial, Clarissa Wren married Amaziah Hart in Peoria. Because of the doctrine of coverture, in which the wife's legal personality was subsumed into that of her husband, Amaziah Hart became a party to the case.[2]

This case was important because it was one of the first cases in Illinois to challenge the patriarchal system and assert the rights of women.


  1. Our Folk genealogy Pages by Albert Hart. Amaziah Hart
  2. 2.0 2.1 In Tender Consideration: Women, Families, and the Law in Abraham Lincoln's Illinois. Edited by Daniel W. Stowell 2002
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