Author Topic: Bigamy - multiplied!  (Read 418 times)

Offline brentor boy

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Bigamy - multiplied!
« on: Friday 01 December 17 09:19 GMT (UK) »
In 1901 my great uncle married a woman whose first husband, a sailor, deserted his ship, and presumably his wife and child, in 1894. This man subsequently rejoined the Army,, which he originally deserted in 1888 to join the Navy. He married for a second time in  1899 and died in  1941.

My great uncle married for a second time in 1905 and his first wife remarried for a third time in 1931, after the death of my great uncle but whilst her first husband  was still alive.

It seems improbable  that any of these marriages were dissolved legally which means that when my great uncle married for the first  time his "wife" was doing so bigamously. My question is: if the invalidity of this marriage was not formally confirmed, was he committing bigamy  at he time of his second marriage?



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Offline KGarrad

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Re: Bigamy - multiplied!
« Reply #1 on: Friday 01 December 17 09:27 GMT (UK) »
If one party to a marriage disappeared for seven years it was, by the eighteenth century, generally assumed that the deserted one could marry again, though if the errant one returned, the first marriage took priority. Desertion and bigamy were not infrequent, but prosecutions were rare.
Garrad (Suffolk, Essex, Somerset), Crocker (Somerset), Vanstone (Devon, Jersey), Sims (Wiltshire), Bridger (Kent)

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Offline Guy Etchells

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Re: Bigamy - multiplied!
« Reply #2 on: Friday 01 December 17 09:48 GMT (UK) »
I would suggest you read my page at
http://www.rootschat.com/links/0ynq/

That describes the legal position from 1604, pay particular attention to clause II.

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Offline brentor boy

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Re: Bigamy - multiplied!
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 02 December 17 07:18 GMT (UK) »
Thanks to both for your informative posts.

So it would seem that when my great uncle married for the first time his bride was free to marry on the basis that the long term desertion of her first husband had brought that marriage to an end. Would she have been required to have made any form of sworn declaration to that effect?

When my great uncle married for the second it is quite clear that he was doing so bigamously. His first wife was known to be still alive and gave birth to their third child three months after his second marriage. This answers my original question.

Strangely when his first wife married for the third time and when she could have legitimately described herself as a widow,  she choose to claim to be a spinster. She married in my great uncle's surname and even  modified her father's name for consistency.