Author Topic: Bigamy - how common?  (Read 2491 times)

Offline barmaid1971

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Bigamy - how common?
« on: Wednesday 17 September 14 21:06 BST (UK) »
I was shocked to learn that my gg grandmother had 4 further marriages after her marriage to gg grandad (2 of them were to the same man - 1 illegally and the second one legally after her divorce).  I discovered this when I found her divorce papers after marriages 2-4.

Then I find that Mr BM's Glasgow grannie was married again 16 years after her first marriage.  Hubby No 1 still alive and well (no divorce - i assume - they were scottish and these are a bit easier to search).  Meanwhile, hubby No 1 gets married again at least once.  Grannie marries again but hubby no 2 clears off and is found in London - again married to someone else.

Then Mr BM's mum marries again (allegedly).  In any event this ostensibly happened in the 1960s which was a bit inconvenient since she didnt actually bother getting divorced from the previous spouse until 1980.

I imagine divorce was expensive.  I also imagine there were no checks done.  You just rocked up and said "I am John Smith and I know of no legal impediment" (this is a guess).  Indeed I remember when I got married I didnt have to "prove" I was eligible.

So is it just me (and the OH) or is this really common?
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Offline dawnsh

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 17 September 14 21:11 BST (UK) »
I also know of several cases where a divorce was assumed but the decree nisi was never made absolute 6 weeks later because the parties didn't return to court. And these have all been post WW2.
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Offline barryd

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 17 September 14 21:36 BST (UK) »
I do not know but I would imagine that Australia would be a place where bigamy would have been very prevalent. Either a married man or married woman transported alone would, as it has been stated, find it impossible to go through parliament for a divorce. Some "remarried" later in life in are Australian Bigamists?  I am a novice in Australian Transportation. If there are any experts please answer the question - could a married person being transported take their innocent spouse with them?

Offline iluleah

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 17 September 14 22:47 BST (UK) »
I think there are more than we like to think, as you say no checks were done when people got married, they didn't have to show birth certificates or record proof of being single.
Only recently I was helping someone start to research their ancestry whose father up and left when she was small, leaving her mum, herself and two toddler brothers, what I found was he moved to the next county, married within weeks of leaving and 6 months later a child was born, I checked and double checked thinking I had made a mistake and even managed to make contact with the now elderly 'new' baby and his father was the man I was helping to look for........ he lived his life out 12 miles from his previous home, a shock to both him and the person I was helping.

In my own research I thought I found one, but it it turned out they lived as 'common law'  it was only when I went sideways researching siblings of ancestors marriages and found several who married bigamist spouses whose partner had been either imprisoned or transported, then having a look at them they too had married very quickly either on release or very quickly after they arrived in their 'new' country.
This is interesting http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/res-10.html
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Offline Wiggy

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 17 September 14 23:32 BST (UK) »
I do not know but I would imagine that Australia would be a place where bigamy would have been very prevalent. Either a married man or married woman transported alone would, as it has been stated, find it impossible to go through parliament for a divorce. Some "remarried" later in life in Australia.Bigamists?  I am a novice in Australian Transportation. If there are any experts please answer the question - could a married person being transported take their innocent spouse with them?

What a very odd assumption to make. 

Certainly convicts were allowed to remarry if they'd been 'out of/away from the marriage' for more than seven years - but I don't think this was considered bigamy - the more so as they had very little hope of ever returning to England.   
Their partners in England could also remarry if their convicted OH's had been gone for more than 7 years  . . .  so, not just occurring in Australia.  The marriage was considered void is my understanding, so not bigamy.

No doubt someone will correct me if I am wrong.

Wiggy
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Offline Marmalady

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #5 on: Thursday 18 September 14 00:41 BST (UK) »
If there are any experts please answer the question - could a married person being transported take their innocent spouse with them?

Not an expert, but i have an instance of a wife petitioning the Government that she & their child be allowed to join her transported husband in Australia. I don't know what the outcome of her request was -- i cannot find any trace of the wife & child either in the UK or in Australia -- but the convict husband did marry and have another family in Australia  a few years later.
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Offline majm

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 18 September 14 01:48 BST (UK) »
I do not know but I would imagine that Australia would be a place where bigamy would have been very prevalent. Either a married man or married woman transported alone would, as it has been stated, find it impossible to go through parliament for a divorce. Some "remarried" later in life in Australia.Bigamists?  I am a novice in Australian Transportation. If there are any experts please answer the question - could a married person being transported take their innocent spouse with them?

Seven Years transportation effectively ended many marriages, where one party was removed "beyond the seas" 

"Co-habitation" was discouraged by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in the 1810s and marriage was encouraged.   So, these later marriages were not considered 'bigamous' marriages by the civil administration, but the clergy tried to be diligent in refusing to marry when there were concerns about the current status of the prospective bride or groom.

Yes, at one time, the spouse and family of a person under sentence of transportation was able to apply to the Colonial government for a free passage too.

Divorce actually did not come to the colonies until after the 'gold rushes' brought far more migrants to Australia than transported during the penal era.

http://www.aifs.org.au/institute/seminars/finlay.html   



Add
http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/627934  Sydney Gazette 24 Feb 1810.


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Offline chris_49

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #7 on: Thursday 18 September 14 07:07 BST (UK) »
Perhaps singling out Australia was an error but the three bigamists I know of in my tree all put a fair distance between their two marriages - Warwick to Liverpool, Doncaster to Iowa, Montreal to Iowa.

There was probably family collusion in this. The witnesses at James Skelseys first wedding were John and Selina Clarke, at the second, George and Ann Talbot. Selina and Ann were his sisters. Ann surely must have known about the first marriage!

 
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Offline Guy Etchells

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Re: Bigamy - how common?
« Reply #8 on: Thursday 18 September 14 07:59 BST (UK) »

Certainly convicts were allowed to remarry if they'd been 'out of/away from the marriage' for more than seven years - but I don't think this was considered bigamy - the more so as they had very little hope of ever returning to England.   
Their partners in England could also remarry if their convicted OH's had been gone for more than 7 years  . . .  so, not just occurring in Australia.  The marriage was considered void is my understanding, so not bigamy.

No doubt someone will correct me if I am wrong.

Wiggy

You are correct Wiggy
The law "An Act to restrain all Persons from Marriage until their former Wives and former Husbands be dead" was introduced in 1604.
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~framland/acts/1604.htm

Section 2 of this 'bigamy' act allowed partners to remarry if the other was overseas for at least 7 years or if they had no knowledge of their partner being alive for 7 years.
The wording of section II puts it like this :

"II. Provided always, That this Act, nor any Thing therein contained, shall extend to any Person or Persons whose Husband or Wife shall be continually remaining beyond the Seas by the Space of seven Years together, or whose Husband or Wife shall absent him or herself the one from the other by the Space of seven Years together, in any Parts within his Majesty’s Dominions, the one of them not knowing the other to be living within that Time. "

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