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Family abandonment and re-marriage

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Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby Simon A » Sun Mar 05, 2017 3:32 pm

I have been doing some digging into the great Grand Uncle of my wife. His name was Benjamin Havard and I have his date of birth as the 25/10/1867 (I got this from School admissions records; I have been unable to find his birth index). The 1891 census has him born in Newbridge, Monmouthshire and married to a Sarah Williams. He married Sarah Ann Williams on the 24/03/1890 (which I obtained from his Marriage Certificate).

Later, Sarah then marries Benjamin’s brother John on the 02/10/1900 (again from the marriage certificate). She is labelled as a spinster. This got me wondering what happened to Benjamin especially as I could not find a sign of a death between 1890 and 1900.

I then found an article in the Police Gazette dated 16 and 23 February 1900 stating he was wanted for abandoning his wife and family and advertising a reward of £1 for information leading to his arrest. His job was as a jockey or stableman.

Further checks of the 1901 and 1911 census show that he may have moved to St Pancras, London and started a new family. In the 1901 census he listed himself as born in Pontypool and in the 1911 census he has put it as Gloucestershire. The Death index shows him as dying in 1939. The 1911 census also shows him as marrying Ada in 1897 although I have been unable to find a marriage index.

My question is how I can be sure that the man in London is the same as the one who left Sarah Ann Williams. Also, I presume that both Sarah and Benjamin have committed Bigamy. Could Sara’s marriage have been annulled due to abandonment, allowing her to remarry?

What I find quite shocking and tragic is that he had two sons Thomas and Ernest whom he abandoned and later were killed in the Great War. I wonder if he ever knew they were killed.

Looking forward to hearing your views and advice.

Simon
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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 5:34 pm

Simon A wrote:...
My question is how I can be sure that the man in London is the same as the one who left Sarah Ann Williams. ...


If I look in Ancestry for Ben* Havard (inc Sounds-Like and Similar) b1867 +/- 5y, there are 7 such births. They include an Aveyard, 3 Heavers and the following
Benjamin Havard 1866 Jul-Aug-Sep Newcastle in Emlyn Cardiganshire
Benjamin Havard 1867 Oct-Nov-Dec Newport Monmouthshire
Benjamin Thomas Havard 1862 Jul-Aug-Sep Merthyr Tydfil Glamorgan

If you then step through the censuses with the same selection criteria, you see pretty much the same 3

1871
Benjamin Havard William,Lettice abt 1866 Henllan, Cardiganshire, Wales Son Henllan, Cardiganshire
Benjamin Havard John,Margaret abt 1868 Mynyddislwyn, Monmouthshire, Wales Son Mynyddislwyn, Monmouthshire
Benjamin T Havard Thomas,Mary abt 1862 Merthyr, Glamorganshire, Wales Son Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan

1881
Benjamin Havard William,Letticia abt 1866 Llandyfriog, Cardiganshire, Wales Son Llandyfriog, Cardiganshire
Benjamin Havard abt 1868 Tredegar, Monmouth, Wales Nephew Llanwenarth Citra, Monmouthshire
No Ben T here....

1891
No Cardigan Ben here.
Benjamin Havard abt 1869 Newbridge, Monmouthshire, Wales Son-in-law Trevethin, Monmouthshire
Benjamin T Havard Jennett abt 1862 Merthyr, Glamorgan, Wales Head Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan

1901
Benjamin Havard Anne abt 1867 Henllan, Cardiganshire, Wales Head Cardigan, Cardiganshire
Benjamin Havard Ada abt 1867 Pontypool, Monmouthshire, Wales Head St Marylebone, London
Benj Thos Havard Jennett abt 1863 Merthyr-Tydfil Head Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan

1911
Benjamin Havard Anne abt 1867 Henllan, Cardiganshire, Wales Head Llanfair Orllwyn, Cardiganshire
Benjamin Havard Ada E abt 1871 Hill, Gloucester, England Head St Pancras, London
Benjamin Thomas Havard Jennett abt 1863 Penydarren, Glamorgan, Wales Head Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan

I have deliberately put the 3 in the same order throughout. So, we see 3 Ben Havards born and 3 appearing in the censuses, albeit with occasional entries missing. Significantly, we don't see an extra one appearing so the data makes reasonable sense.

So the guy in London in 1901 and 1911 really has to be Monmouthshire Ben - otherwise, where does this extra Ben come from? He could, of course, be an error, but an error that drops in exactly on the place of a name and date otherwise lost? Nah.

Simon A wrote:... I presume that both Sarah and Benjamin have committed Bigamy. Could Sara’s marriage have been annulled due to abandonment, allowing her to remarry? ...


Unless I am way off beam, annulment due to desertion was simply not possible. Annulment is saying that the marriage legally never existed, and that's not true here, based on what you say. Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matrimonial_Causes_Act_1857 a wife could get a divorce but desertion on its own was not enough - it had to be desertion with cruelty (or another combination).
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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby Simon A » Sun Mar 05, 2017 7:55 pm

Thanks for that Adrian

It’s nice to have someone else confirm what you already believe.

I just find it difficult to believe that Sarah could marry Benjamin’s brother John without any close relatives or friends knowing that she was already married to Benjamin.

Simon
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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby AdrianB38 » Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:41 pm

Simon A wrote:... I just find it difficult to believe that Sarah could marry Benjamin’s brother John without any close relatives or friends knowing that she was already married to Benjamin. ...

Maybe they knew perfectly well but decided, "So what, she deserves a bit of happiness?"

On the other hand, you don't say how close Sarah and John were to their normal haunts when they married - if they weren't, then it's always possible that the rest of their friends and relatives didn't know. Of course, living together is a bit of a clue that something's going on...
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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby carobradford » Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:23 pm

As Adrian says, there was no grounds for an annulment. A charge of bigamy would have been defendable after 7 years had either party genuine grounds to believe that their spouse was no longer alive. Even if that had been the case, Sarah and John's marriage was still unlawful, and therefore void, because marriage do ones deceased brother's widow did not become legal until 1921.
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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby Mick Loney » Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:36 pm

Regardless of whether the previous mariage was ended by death, divorce or annulment, it was against the law to marry your sister in law or brother in law until 1907, when the law changed.
Legally, the law made no distinction between a brother in law and a brother! As such, a woman was not permitted to marry either!
(The same applied to men marrying sisters and sisters in law).


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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby Sylcec » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:24 am

However, Mick
Regardless of whether the previous mariage was ended by death, divorce or annulment, it was against the law to marry your sister in law or brother in law until 1907, when the law changed.

I think it was a law not marked strongly by adherence - one of my sets of gt grandparents involved the man marrying the younger sister of his deceased first wife. And I have read of many other similar cases. Of course there would be many, probably rural, parishes where everything was known and the vicar stuck rigidly to the law - which was anyway part of the Church of England law of 'prohibited degrees of consanguinity'.
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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby Mick Loney » Mon Mar 06, 2017 7:03 am

Sylcec,
I know what you mean! I have one or two examples in my own tree :)


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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby Simon A » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:14 pm

Thank you all very much. I'm wondering if Benjamin married his second wife (The 1911 Census give a date of 1897 but I could not find a record of the marriage)

The article from the Police Gazette (from Ancestry) says he was a Jockey and Stable boy. Does anyone know if there are any possible records existing? Has any of the racing newspapers from the time been digitised?

Simon
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Re: Family abandonment and re-marriage

Postby Helen C » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:11 pm

Hi hope this helps, I've just looked on the GRO index and have found a birth for Benjamin Havard in the Dec quarter 1867 in Newport. Mother's maiden name is now included in this index and records the maiden name as Perrott. Ref is vol 11a page 203. This will also help to find siblings if there were any.
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