Author Topic: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s  (Read 401 times)

Offline Darwin

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I have an ancestor who was widowed and then subsequently had 4 children, all with the father un-named. On their birth certificates, she is recorded as her married name but with no maiden name included. They were all born in the workhouse (she was a frequent visitor!) and when she was there during a census, she was categorised as unmarried. This also happened when she was working as a servant on a farm (presumably placed by the workhouse guardians). The first time she records herself in a census (1891) she categorises herself as a widow.

I'm interested in finding out if this was a common practice (England - 1870s/1880s) and/or if anyone else has come across this.

Also - has anyone come across this where the husband has disappeared so the woman is known to be apart from her husband but then has more children who aren't his. If you've seen examples of this where she's then labelled unmarried (while still legally being so) I'd love to know about them.
Devon: Sloman & Parsons
Banffshire: McGregor & Ogg
Census information is Crown Copyright  http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Sloe Gin

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 15 October 20 15:35 BST (UK) »
Also - has anyone come across this where the husband has disappeared so the woman is known to be apart from her husband but then has more children who aren't his. If you've seen examples of this where she's then labelled unmarried (while still legally being so) I'd love to know about them.

Not quite the same, but I have a GG Grandmother whose husband apparently disappeared between 1851 and 1861 (where she appears in the census as "wife" but he is absent).

Then in 1870 she marries another man, using her married surname but described as a spinster.  Her father's surname on the certificate is correct, and not the same as her married name.

The first husband does turn up in 1881, in the workhouse of the same town, and he dies there in 1891.  Did she know all that time that he was alive?  Who knows.
UK census content is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk  Transcriptions are my own.

Offline BumbleB

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 15 October 20 16:49 BST (UK) »
A slight variation  :-\

Couple marry - 5 August 1850.  Wife sues for divorce - Petition filed - 27 November 1871

Decree Nisi - 31 January 1873
Final Decree - 5 August 1873

She remarries 16 October 1873 - Divorced woman
He remarries 20 July 1873 - Widower

Transcriptions and NBI are merely finding aids.  They are NOT a substitute for original record entries.
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Offline Darwin

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #3 on: Thursday 15 October 20 17:45 BST (UK) »
Also - has anyone come across this where the husband has disappeared so the woman is known to be apart from her husband but then has more children who aren't his. If you've seen examples of this where she's then labelled unmarried (while still legally being so) I'd love to know about them.

Not quite the same, but I have a GG Grandmother whose husband apparently disappeared between 1851 and 1861 (where she appears in the census as "wife" but he is absent).

Then in 1870 she marries another man, using her married surname but described as a spinster.  Her father's surname on the certificate is correct, and not the same as her married name.

The first husband does turn up in 1881, in the workhouse of the same town, and he dies there in 1891.  Did she know all that time that he was alive?  Who knows.
How intriguing! You could write a story/play about it... I can see the deserter turning up broke & begging help/forgiveness while the wronged wife bolts the door (a bit like Olivia De Havilland in The Heiress).
Devon: Sloman & Parsons
Banffshire: McGregor & Ogg
Census information is Crown Copyright  http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Darwin

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #4 on: Thursday 15 October 20 17:48 BST (UK) »
A slight variation  :-\

Couple marry - 5 August 1850.  Wife sues for divorce - Petition filed - 27 November 1871

Decree Nisi - 31 January 1873
Final Decree - 5 August 1873

She remarries 16 October 1873 - Divorced woman
He remarries 20 July 1873 - Widower

So he told porkies to his new wife then? Where did you find the divorce records? I can't imagine my couple having a divorce because he was only a labourer (sometimes a shoemaker).
Devon: Sloman & Parsons
Banffshire: McGregor & Ogg
Census information is Crown Copyright  http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

Offline Sloe Gin

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #5 on: Thursday 15 October 20 19:47 BST (UK) »
That's the thing, divorce was not so easily available to the working classes, so sometimes couples may have just agreed to part.  My GG Grandfather may have done a runner, or left by mutual agreement.  He was a shoemaker, but also worked as a ferryman so he may have gone to sea, which would explain why I haven't found him on the censuses.

Family story passed down was that he went missing and was believed to have been murdered by being pushed off a boat or jetty, but I couldn't find anything in the local papers and something like that would surely have been reported.  So they could have made that up.  I would have thought she would have called herself a widow when she married again though.
UK census content is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk  Transcriptions are my own.

Offline majm

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 15 October 20 20:02 BST (UK) »
 :)

A person recorded as "Unmarried"  can, of course, have become unmarried because their marriage ended when their spouse died.  So a widow/widower is an unmarried person until such time as they marry again.

JM
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Offline Sloe Gin

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #7 on: Thursday 15 October 20 20:24 BST (UK) »
A person recorded as "Unmarried"  can, of course, have become unmarried because their marriage ended when their spouse died.  So a widow/widower is an unmarried person until such time as they marry again.

That term isn't used in relation to my GGGM though.  She's married and a wife in 1861.  She marries again in 1870 and is described as "spinster" on the certificate.
UK census content is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk  Transcriptions are my own.

Offline majm

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Re: Widows subsequently labelled unmarried - looking for examples in England 1870s
« Reply #8 on: Thursday 15 October 20 20:50 BST (UK) »
A person recorded as "Unmarried"  can, of course, have become unmarried because their marriage ended when their spouse died.  So a widow/widower is an unmarried person until such time as they marry again.

That term isn't used in relation to my GGGM though.  She's married and a wife in 1861.  She marries again in 1870 and is described as "spinster" on the certificate.

Yes, there were just three options to describe the marital status of the parties on marriage registrations and none included "unmarried".   

 :) Bachelor/Spinster
 :) Divorcee Petitioner/Divorcee
 Respondent
 :) Widower/Widow

I also understand that the term Widow had a fairly broad meaning until at least  Queen Victoria became a widow upon the death of her husband, 1860s. So for example a female with young children but not co-habiting with a male companion could be referred to as a widow and of course , the wording on a marriage registration would be made by the clergy.     There are quite a number of threads at RChat that mention the various English statutes from the early 1600s that address the issues   ;D

JM  Edit to sort grammar and wording ... one finger typing is not my forte.   ::) sorry.

I have an ancestor who was widowed and then subsequently had 4 children, all with the father un-named. On their birth certificates, she is recorded as her married name but with no maiden name included. They were all born in the workhouse (she was a frequent visitor!) and when she was there during a census, she was categorised as unmarried. This also happened when she was working as a servant on a farm (presumably placed by the workhouse guardians). The first time she records herself in a census (1891) she categorises herself as a widow.

I'm interested in finding out if this was a common practice (England - 1870s/1880s) and/or if anyone else has come across this.

Also - has anyone come across this where the husband has disappeared so the woman is known to be apart from her husband but then has more children who aren't his. If you've seen examples of this where she's then labelled unmarried (while still legally being so) I'd love to know about them.
The information in my posts is provided for academic and non-commercial research purposes. 
Random Acts of Kindness Given Freely are never Worthless for they are Priceless.
Qui scit et non docet.    Qui docet et non vivit.    Qui nescit et non interrogat.   
All Census Look Ups Are Crown Copyright from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk
I do not have a face book or a twitter account.