Author Topic: Marrying your dead wife’s sister  (Read 2720 times)

Offline Gillg

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #18 on: Tuesday 20 February 24 14:35 GMT (UK) »
An ancestor of mine moved with her husband and baby to live in the US (Kansas).  They became US citizens.  My ancestor died at the birth of her second child and we think that her widowed husband sent an SOS to her family back  in England, because her younger sister, mother and brother moved out to Kansas.  Around a year after the death the sister married the widower and they raised a large family together.  They became pillars of the community, so I guess that in the US in 1877 this was considered to be a sensible and acceptable kind of thing for the widower to do.
Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

FAIREY/FAIRY/FAREY/FEARY, LAWSON, CHURCH, BENSON, HALSTEAD from Easton, Ellington, Eynesbury, Gt Catworth, Huntingdon, Spaldwick, Hunts;  Burnley, Lancs;  New Zealand, Australia & US.

HURST, BOLTON,  BUTTERWORTH, ADAMSON, WILD, MCIVOR from Milnrow, Newhey, Oldham & Rochdale, Lancs., Scotland.

Offline Zaphod99

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #19 on: Thursday 29 February 24 17:29 GMT (UK) »
I had one like this.  It was a longtime mystery.  The ages of a wife on the various censuses were inconsistent, she was initially known as Mary Ann, but later Maria, and Maria on her grave.  This was duplicated on many Ancestry trees, until I eventually found that Mary Ann had died, the widowed husband had then married Mary Ann's kid sister, Maria.  I got the various certificates and I wrote to all the 'wrong' trees on ancestry, got no replies, and nothing has been changed.

Zaph

Offline Sloe Gin

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #20 on: Tuesday 12 March 24 13:08 GMT (UK) »
In instances I have come across, although the second marriages took place at some distance, the couples returned home afterwards.  Their families and communities must have been well aware that the two wives were sisters.  I don't think everyone disapproved, or even felt strongly about it.

My great-great grandparents avoided marrying while it was against church law, but did so before it became civil law.  Harriet's first husband died in 1829, and she married his brother Richard in 1835. They had a child in 1831 who was baptised in their home village, but no father is recorded in the parish register.

Marriage between a widow and her deceased husband's brother was prohibited under ecclesiastical law, although until 1835 there was no civil ban, and such marriages were not void (although voidable).  The 1835 Marriage Act however, hardened the law into an absolute prohibition (while, however, authorising any such marriages which had already taken place), so that such marriages could no longer take place in the UK.

Richard and Harriet were very probably discouraged from marrying because of ecclesiastical disapproval.  But faced with a civil ban, they married before the Marriage Act came into force on 31 Aug 1835, marrying outside their own parish by licence.  They continued to live in their own village, and everybody must have known the circumstances.  Probably nobody cared except the vicar!
UK census content is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk  Transcriptions are my own.

Offline ShaunJ

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #21 on: Tuesday 12 March 24 14:09 GMT (UK) »
One of my wife's ancestors married his deceased wife's sister in a register office ceremony in Liverpool in 1888, then (on the basis that the marriage was invalid under English law) they sailed to New York and married again in Brooklyn two weeks later. That was a Sunday, and the following Wednesday they returned to Liverpool.
UK Census info. Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk


Online AntonyMMM

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #22 on: Tuesday 12 March 24 19:59 GMT (UK) »
The 1835 Marriage Act however, hardened the law into an absolute prohibition (while, however, authorising any such marriages which had already taken place), so that such marriages could no longer take place in the UK.

Not strictly prohibited as such - what the Act actually said (s2) was ...

"That all marriages which shall hereafter be celebrated between persons within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or affinity shall be absolutely null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever"

So it made any such marriages automatically void - but that didn't prevent them from happening, and quite regularly. My 3x G Grandfather married his widows younger sister (in 1840). They went to a neighbouring parish for the ceremony, but family members were witnesses and I doubt there was much attempt at any secrecy about it.

Despite the 1835 Act It is a fairly common thing to find in families at that time, and no offence was committed by anyone doing it.

Online coombs

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #23 on: Wednesday 13 March 24 16:35 GMT (UK) »
I just found out my 3xgreat grandfather's half brother William Warden Walder (same father from his 2nd marriage) married in 1877 and his first wife died and he married his first wife's sister in 1887. She died in 1929 and he in 1933.
Researching:

LONDON, Coombs, Roberts, Auber, Helsdon, Fradine, Morin, Goodacre
DORSET Coombs, Munday
NORFOLK Helsdon, Riches, Harbord, Budery
KENT Roberts, Goodacre
SUSSEX Walder, Boniface, Dinnage, Standen, Lee, Botten, Wickham, Jupp
SUFFOLK Titshall, Frost, Fairweather, Mayhew, Archer, Eade, Scarfe
DURHAM Stewart, Musgrave, Wilson, Forster
SCOTLAND Stewart in Selkirk
USA Musgrave, Saix
ESSEX Cornwell, Stock, Quilter, Lawrence, Whale, Clift
OXON Edgington, Smith, Inkpen, Snell, Batten, Brain

Offline DianaCanada

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #24 on: Saturday 16 March 24 21:23 GMT (UK) »
Been enjoying this thread, and was surprised today when I found a relative who’s young wife died soon after they married which was in 1886, then married her sister in 1892.  Small parish (Pett, Sussex) everyone in town would have known this.  Found a short obit too, he was the best cricketer the town had ever produced!
Didn’t get too far on the next sibling, but looks like his sister married the brother of the two wives.  They all lived down the road from his grandmother.

Offline jimbo50

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #25 on: Sunday 17 March 24 01:00 GMT (UK) »
Been enjoying this thread,   Small parish (Pett, Sussex) everyone in town would have known this.  Found a short obit too, he was the best cricketer the town had ever produced!
a) You're not supposed to enjoy threads about dead wives. :) b) I'm very sorry for this bit....As a youngster I loved Pett, still do. I played Stoolball for Pett village in the 1950's whilst on holiday ( a game like rounders but with a wicket on a post). ....From what I remember there were about fifteen houses plus a few farms. The Two Sawyers club is still a dream watering hole though with a lovely bluebell woods behind.

Offline DianaCanada

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Re: Marrying your dead wife’s sister
« Reply #26 on: Sunday 17 March 24 01:27 GMT (UK) »
Been enjoying this thread,   Small parish (Pett, Sussex) everyone in town would have known this.  Found a short obit too, he was the best cricketer the town had ever produced!
a) You're not supposed to enjoy threads about dead wives. :) b) I'm very sorry for this bit....As a youngster I loved Pett, still do. I played Stoolball for Pett village in the 1950's whilst on holiday ( a game like rounders but with a wicket on a post). ....From what I remember there were about fifteen houses plus a few farms. The Two Sawyers club is still a dream watering hole though with a lovely bluebell woods behind.

And all these years I’ve been enjoying learning about my dead ancestors😁!
Rounders? Remember, I’m Canadian…but I do think I played it when I visited England at the age of 11.  No clue what I was doing…
I do have a wonderful photo of a group of stoolball playing women taken in Heathfield, Sussex pre WWI, includes my great grandmother, she must have been in in her forties then. They aren’t actually playing in the photo, just posing.