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Wives of convicts 1850's

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Wives of convicts 1850's

Postby Proteus » Sat Sep 14, 2019 10:38 am

Could/did wives of convicts that were transported to Australia claim they were widows and remarry?
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Re: Wives of convicts 1850's

Postby Amazinggrace » Sun Sep 15, 2019 9:27 pm

That is a very interesting question.
My 5xGGF was transported in 1791.Unfortunately he never survived the journey.There doesn't appear
to have been any system to notify next of kin of the death.As most people who were transported would not have had the funds to return when the sentence was up,I suspect they were thought of as dead.
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Re: Wives of convicts 1850's

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Sep 16, 2019 8:15 pm

Some extensive text on this in Rebecca Probert's "Divorced, Bigamist, Bereaved", p.117 et seq.

So far as I can see, no, there was no automatic ability for them to claim that they were widows and remarry. Having said that, the standard period of transportation was 7y, the same period of absence that formed the defence to the charge of bigamy under the 1603 Act - this is the "I've not heard from him for 7y so I assumed he was dead, yer honour" defence.

So if the 7y had elapsed (and not before!) and nothing was heard from him, then the wife could reasonably assume that he was dead. Of course, if he then turned up a year later having made a fortune in the Australian gold-fields, life got interesting....
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Re: Wives of convicts 1850's

Postby JaneyH » Tue Sep 17, 2019 7:40 am

Don’t forget it could be the wife that was transported leaving the husband at home in England. This was the case with my 5x great-grandmother, who was sent to Australia in 1807. He was left at home with the children, while she became moderately successful in Australia once she received her ticket of leave. She married bigamously (or not) in 1830 and died in 1852 at the grand age of 93!


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