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Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

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Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby ClareBear » Wed Jun 05, 2019 5:59 pm

Hello
I am trying to work out if my 2nd great uncle was married twice, and if this is also case with his first wife?

Francis Henry Clarke was born in 1876 in Swinton, Yorkshire and was married to Mary Jane Hudson in 1900, and the marriage was registered in the Middlesborough district.

On the 1901 census, Francis and his wife Mary Jane are living with her parents in Thornaby, with their 7 day old baby son. Francis is a House Decorator/Painter. However on the 1911 census, Mary Jane is still living with her parents and their son - also Francis Henry - but Francis Henry senior is not recorded on the census. (on his army records in 1898 he gives his occupation as Painter & Decorator)

A search to find in him in 1911, brings up a Francis Henry Clarke, living in Worthing, Sussex with a wife - Alice Clarke and their daughter Violet F Clarke. Francis is listed as a House Decorator born in Yorkshire. Is this a coincidence or is this the same person? There is a marriage entry for Francis Henry Clarke and Alice White for East Preston, Sussex district in 1910.


So if Francis Henry disappeared and he left Mary Jane - did Mary Jane also re-marry? Searches bring up a marriage for Clarke & Bromby in 1914 in Hartlepool? Could this be my Mary Jane - without ordering a marriage certificate how can I check before committing to purchasing a copy of this certificate and the Clarke/White certificate? I can't find a divorce for Francis/Mary Jane, I did have a look for this.


These two ancestors have always been a bit of a mystery - it would be great to solve it. Any hints or advice on solving this little puzzle would be much appreciated. And if these all turn out to be coincidences then I can search again for Francis and Mary Jane to see what happened to them.

Thanks. ClareBear
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Re: Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby MoVidger » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:35 pm

Not sure if this is your chap?

West Sussex Gazette 10 September 1931 - "How He Got The Dole"
Francis Henry Clarke, a painter, was sentenced on Monday to a month's hard labour for making false representations to obtain unemployment benefit...He had seven children and his wife was an invalid. He had served in the 4th Dragoons, held the Mons Star, and had also been a special constable."

Also, the FHC residing in Worthing in the 1911 census lists his birthplace as "Swinton, Yorkshire", so it's likely he is your chap, considering the occupation is a match, as well.

Additionally, there is a 1916 death for a Mary Bromby (b 1883) in Hartlepool. Birth year matches that of your Mary Jane Hudson.

Further to the newspaper story above, I can see six Clarke children (mmn White) born between 1911 to 1926, first two births registered in E. Preston; the remaining four in Brighton. Unsure which district the other birth occurred.

Looks like FHC had joined the Army in 1898. Trade/Calling: Painter & Decorator. Record on FMP.

First name(s) Francis Henry
Last name Clarke
Birth year 1878
Birth parish Swinton
Birth town Swinton
Birth county Yorkshire
Birth country England
Service number 4382
Regiment Yorkshire Regiment
Year 1898
Attestation date 17 Oct 1898
Attestation age years 20
Attestation age months 8
Attestation service number 4382
Attestation corps 3rd Yorkshire Regt
Document type Attestation
Series Wo 96 - Militia Service Records 1806-1915
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Re: Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby ClareBear » Thu Jun 06, 2019 1:21 pm

Hello
Thanks so much for the info - the newspaper report is interesting, I will find this when I am next at my local archives and take a copy. He sounds like a bit of a character. I think my next step is to order the marriage cert and see what else that reveals!

Mary Jane's death seems to fit in with everything else as well.

Thanks again for the help on this one
Kind regards
ClareBear
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Re: Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby ClareBear » Thu Jul 04, 2019 7:14 pm

Hello
Following on from the help received on this ancestor, I have now done a lot more research and sent off for a couple of marriage certificates. This has a raised a question:
Francis Henry remarried in 1910 and put himself as Bachelor on the certificate, which was not quite right as he had left his wife and there are no records of any divorce.
The wife he left, Mary Jane, also remarried (to Charles W S Bromby in 1914) - however she puts herself as a widow on the certificate. Assuming she had no idea what happened to Francis after he left, could she enter widow on her marriage certificate without any proof? Would she have needed to show a death cert for her first husband or was it enough to just say to the registar that her husband had died?
This has been a great story to follow - Mary Jane when she remarried became one of 4 wives of Charles Bromby, and he had his fair share of newspaper coverage as well!
Thanks in advance of any answers to this question
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Re: Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby meekhcs » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:44 pm

From memory I think after a number of years (7?) without contact she could presume he was dead? I am sure someone else will correct me if that is wrong.


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Re: Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 6:40 am

According to Wikipedia...
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declare ... n_absentia
... it seems to be a bit more than someone just presuming. Seven years is indeed the figure in the UK under normal circumstances but it looks like you have to get a court order. Not sure if that court order results in the production of a death certificate or not - I didn't read it that thoroughly.

I think that the general idea is that the registrar will believe what they are told and in the same way that you don't need to provide your birth certificate to prove who you are when you marry, so you don't need to provide a death certificate for your previous spouse when claiming to be a widow(er) on remarriage.

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Re: Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby pollymac » Fri Jul 05, 2019 8:45 am

An excellent book on this subject is ‘Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved?’ by Rebecca Probert.
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Re: Francis Henry Clarke - married twice but no divorce?

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Jul 05, 2019 11:34 am

Yes, I'd forgotten Professor Probert's books, so thanks for the reminder. As it is, there is a whole section on whether or not, no knowledge of the other spouse for 7y constituted defence against a charge of bigamy. (Spoiler: It depends....)

She also confirms, in the context of required proof of death, etc, that "a lot of faith was placed in the parties' own declarations", and that it was only in 1999 that registrars were given formal powers to request evidence re marital status, etc etc. Before that, they could raise an eyebrow and ask questions but it wasn't formalised so I guess that a guilty party could swear everything was above board and that was it.

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