In a post on the discussion group Victoria (23 September 2021), Judith Flanders provided some useful information about how to explore the subject of bigamous marriages in the nineteenth-century. Thanks to her for sharing her post with our readers. — George P. Landow
Typing ‘bigamy’ into the British Newspaper Archive (formerly the Nineteenth-Ventury Newspaper Archive) brings up tens of thousands of hits. Even allowing for the vagaries of e-searching, there is the case of Daniel Johnson, 15 July 1872, in the Belfast Telegraph, who seems to have been married, or possibly ‘married’, three times, and goes to court openly acknowledging this fact, in order to gain custody of his child, whom one of his wives had taken, despite not being the child’s mother.
Or the Dublin Examiner, 11 January 1888, which reported on a case of a Mrs Henry Higgs, accused of bigamy who refuted it by saying that her own first husband had married her bigamously, and thus when she married the second, it was her first real marriage.
Or Thomas Jones, in the Leominster News and North-west Herefordshire & Radnorshire Advertiser, 15 September 1899, who seemed astonished that his wives (plural) kept moving in with other men when he was sentenced to penal servitude with what sounds like remarkable regularity.
These were just a few hits I opened at random — there’s a world of bigamy out there!
Last modified 27 September 2021