Author Topic: Scottish custom circa 1850  (Read 4207 times)

Offline DavidCowley53

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Scottish custom circa 1850
« on: Tuesday 26 March 13 20:12 GMT (UK) »
I have a question on Scottish customs as it relates to marriages.  My great grandfather was married in Pebbles in 1875.  His wife had two children but died from the second childbirth.  The wife's younger sister moved in to help him out with the two kids.  He then had 8 kids with the younger sister.  I don't think they were ever married.  On the census the younger sister is referred to as servant-Housekeeper, sister-in-law after his death on the 1901 Census the 16 year old son was considered the head of the house and the younger sister's relationship to the head was mother and for the first time the younger sister had the surname of my great grandfather.  On my great grandfathers death register it indicates he was a widower and the name of his wife was the first wife no mention of the 2nd.  My question is would this be considered "normal" vis a vis the treatment of the "second wife" .  Thanks for any insight.  :-))

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Offline TropiConsul

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Re: Scottish custom circa 1850
« Reply #1 on: Tuesday 26 March 13 21:07 GMT (UK) »
David, I suggest that you do some research on the subject of "irregular marriages" in Scotland.  I had occasion to do the same a while back, but I no longer remember the circumstances.  Regarding the marriage of a younger sister subsequent to the death of the first wife, I have several instances among my relatives in the USA.  One was a McDonald and the great-grandson of a Scottish emigrant.  He was a doctor of divinity and professor of ancient languages at an Episcopal seminary.  He and his wife were both from New York families but he was serving in Ohio when it was still a frontier. His first wife died in 1809 shortly after delivering their first child, a son.  From what I can gather, the younger sister was sent from New York to Ohio to care for the infant and married the professor two years later.  The younger sister of the first wife became the mother of eight children, all of them boys.  After the the untimely death of the professor, his surviving wife moved into the household of her nephew rather than the household of any one of her own eight sons.         
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Offline DavidCowley53

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Re: Scottish custom circa 1850
« Reply #2 on: Tuesday 26 March 13 21:31 GMT (UK) »
Thanks TropiConsul. 

I have heard of "border marriages" but not "irregular marriages"  I'll do some investigating.  Thanks again.

Offline Elwyn Soutter

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Re: Scottish custom circa 1850
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 27 March 13 08:00 GMT (UK) »
The relationship with the deceased wife’s sister might be regarded as a marriage by custom & repute. See:

http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/socialpolitical/research/economicsocialhistory/historymedicine/scottishwayofbirthanddeath/marriage/

With regard to the information on the death certificate. That only reflects what the informant told the registrar. If the informant decided to disregard the second relationship, and just gave the first wife’s details, then that wasn’t likely to be challenged. Mistakes and inaccuracies on death certificates are very common.
Elwyn

Offline DavidCowley53

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Re: Scottish custom circa 1850
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 27 March 13 12:58 GMT (UK) »
I dug a bit deeper I don't think my Great Grandfather ever married the 2nd sister even an "irregular marriage". My grandfather birth was registered as illegitimate.  When my great grandfather died the neighbour was the informant and he indicated that he was a widower so if they were "married" in any sense of the word I would think the neighbour would know.

Offline JMStrachan

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Re: Scottish custom circa 1850
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 27 March 13 13:42 GMT (UK) »
I have a feeling that at the time it might not have been allowable to marry your wife's sister, so you might want to check that out. It could be one reason why they didn't marry.

On my family tree there are lots of cases where a wife died leaving young children, someone moved in with the father as housekeeper, and then there's a marriage followed very swiftly indeed by a birth. In your case they seem to have just missed out the marriage bit.
AYRSHIRE - Strachan, McCrae, Haddow, Haggerty, Neilson, Alexander
ABERDEENSHIRE (Cruden and Longside) - Fraser, Hay, Logan, Hutcheon or Hutchison, Sangster
YORKSHIRE (Worsbrough) - Green, Oxley, Firth, Cox, Rock
YORKSHIRE (Royston and Carlton) - Senior, Simpson, Roydhouse, Hattersley

Offline ev

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Re: Scottish custom circa 1850
« Reply #6 on: Wednesday 27 March 13 13:58 GMT (UK) »
It would seem that was the case -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deceased_Wife's_Sister's_Marriage_Act_1907

"in Scotland they were prohibited by a Scottish Marriage Act of 1567"

ev
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Offline DavidCowley53

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Re: Scottish custom circa 1850
« Reply #7 on: Wednesday 27 March 13 14:16 GMT (UK) »
Thanks everyone for the info on the  Scottish Marriage Act of 1567.  I guess my Great Grandfather wasn't so bad afterall.  :) :)