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Memorable Manitobans: Maria Thomas (c1846-1867)

Domestic servant.

Born in Mapleton to a mixed-blood family, she was employed as a maid at age 13 by the cleric G. O. Corbett, who resided in Headingley. According to her later testimony, she was initially drugged and raped by Corbett, subsequently falling into a regular sexual relationship with him, usually in the barn. When she became pregnant, Corbett (who practised medicine in the Red River Settlement) unsuccessfully attempted five times to procure an abortion. The affair became the talk of the settlement. Thomas was the star witness in the case of The Queen v. Corbett, heard early in 1862, which charged the cleric with the abortions but not the rape. She stuck by her story, and Corbett was convicted. A complete trial transcript was published in the Nor’Wester. She died in Mapleton.

Sources:

Dictionary of Manitoba Biography by John M. “Jack” Bumsted, Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 1999.

Page revised: 29 April 2008

Memorable Manitobans

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