Author Topic: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?  (Read 1988 times)

Offline hurworth

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,317
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« on: Saturday 15 April 17 03:58 BST (UK) »
I've been following a family and have come to the conclusion that a family member had several children from the 1830s to 1850s with his wife.  Then there is a gap of about a decade and then two more daughters.  The two younger daughters have the same MMN (mother's maiden name) as the older siblings.

I have just found his second marriage, presumably to his first wife's younger sister registered in Q1 1867 in St Luke, London.  I haven't found a corresponding parish record.  I'm wondering whether this was above board!

They had a daughter in December 1865 and another in July 1867.

Offline phenolphthalein

  • RootsChat Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 15 April 17 04:39 BST (UK) »
When a young teenager and on a trip to Norfolk Island in late 1960s the Church of England prayer books there were old and had lists of who one could and could not marry.  ... and now I do not remember any of it. However it may be worth consulting a prayer book or a friendly vicar.

As there was no consanguity ie shared blood between groom and bride I don't see why they might not have married. She may have assisted in the care of her nieces and nephews and love grew or the need to be able to live respectably in the household.
 Marriage rules change -- at one stage it was legal to marry a first cousin and then became illegal and more recently legal again. and they vary between jurisdictions.
 regards
pH

Offline keyboard86

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 17,056
    • View Profile
Re: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« Reply #2 on: Saturday 15 April 17 04:47 BST (UK) »
 ;D Have you located the death of his first wife?

Keyboard86
Pelly/Pelley/Kingsbury/Challis/Nalder/Rochester/Raydenbow

UK Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline phenolphthalein

  • RootsChat Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 247
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« Reply #3 on: Saturday 15 April 17 04:55 BST (UK) »
Another possibility to consider was that the younger wife was a daughter of one of his late wife's brothers ie a niece by marriage and therefore cousin to his first family. I would think you might need to purchase the marriage certificate to clear this up.

Regards pH


Offline Bearnan

  • RootsChat Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 214
    • View Profile
Re: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« Reply #4 on: Saturday 15 April 17 07:03 BST (UK) »
The Deceased Wife's Sister Marriage act 1907 enabled such marriages to take place legally.

My great grandmother passed away in 1901 leaving two tiny children, her sister came to look after them. She went on to have children with my great grandfather although they never married.

Offline hurworth

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,317
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« Reply #5 on: Saturday 15 April 17 07:28 BST (UK) »
Here is the answer.

Up until 1907 you couldn't marry your deceased wife's sister!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deceased_Wife%27s_Sister%27s_Marriage_Act_1907

The children from both marriages were baptised at Old Church, St Pancras, but that will be why the marriage didn't take place there (even though they already had a child baptised there prior to the marriage).  I've browsed through several months of marriages at the church in case there was a transcription error.  They hardly would have the Banns published in their own parish if it's a forbidden marrige and they're known there.

There is some very strong circumstantial evidence that she is the sister without the second marriage record.  I think they married in a Registry Office to avoid scrutiny.  Also her outfit would have been getting a bit tight... 

The father of the two wives died at his son-in-law's house (same address where according to census records the son-in-law lived for decades) in 1863.  The will was proved by the oaths of the daughter, a spinster, and his son-in-law in early 1864.  They have the same address (the address where her father died).  This daughter has the same name as the woman he married in 1867.  Her place of birth (in Sussex) on the 1871 census is near where his first wife was born.  His first wife's father had the same name as the man who died in 1863.

So it appears to me that she was looking after her nieces and nephews in London and also caring for her elderly father (as dutiful spinster daughters were expected to do) and they got close.   

Just saw your post bearnan.  Same scenario.   

 

Offline chris_49

  • RootsChat Aristocrat
  • ******
  • Posts: 1,291
  • Unknown Father - swiving then vanishing since 1750
    • View Profile
Re: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 15 April 17 07:38 BST (UK) »
Yes it was illegal though it still happened if people thought they could get away with it. If it took place in church as most did back then, it was better to have the banns read where you weren't known.

I have a few examples in my tree. In one case the marriages were both in (conveniently large) Manchester: the first marriage was in a church in Collyhurst, the widower's second was at the Registry office. The whole family emigrated to Rhode Island shortly after - I don't think that was to evade the law.

In another case the first marriage was in Warwickshire, the second in Derby. I'd expect to find the bride's banns being read in her home village (on A***y's Warks parish records) but I haven't - I suspect she was already in Derby helping look after her nieces and nephews.

The bride was 41 and subsequently had no children. I wonder if the marriage was more to stop neighbourly gossip. If so, it's interesting that they would prefer to break the law of the land rather than live together perfectly legally. I suspect this outdated law was not enforced - there were more serious crimes being committed.

I expect that this sort of law has its origin in Leviticus, most of whose do's and don'ts were being ignored even back then, but some biblical expert will be able to tell us.
Skelcey (Skelsey Skelcy Skeley Shelsey Kelcy Skelcher) - Warks, Yorks, Lancs <br />Hancox - Warks<br />Green - Warks<br />Draper - Warks<br />Lynes - Warks<br />Hudson - Warks<br />Morris - Denbs Mont Salop <br />Davies - Cheshire, North Wales<br />Fellowes - Cheshire, Denbighshire<br />Owens - Cheshire/North Wales<br />Hicks - Cornwall<br />Lloyd and Jones (Mont)<br />Rhys/Rees (Mont)

Offline clugstonfamilytree

  • RootsChat Extra
  • **
  • Posts: 3
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile
Re: England - could you marry your late wife's sister in the 1860s?
« Reply #7 on: Saturday 15 April 17 08:00 BST (UK) »
> I expect that this sort of law has its origin in Leviticus, most of whose do's and don'ts were being ignored even back then, but some biblical expert will be able to tell us.

Interestingly, under Biblically law, if your brother died, if you were unmarried you HAD to marry his widow. So it is not at all symmetrical.
Deuteronomy 25:5.
"If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband's brother shall take her and marry her and fulfill the duty of a brother-in-law to her."
And if he refused, the city elders would spit on him.
Evidently _that_ part of the Biblical law was no longer in force.

Offline Ruskie

  • RootsChat Marquessate
  • *******
  • Posts: 25,886
  • Census information Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
    • View Profile