Il­licit mar­riage

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The ar­ti­cle about mar­riage in your July 2015 is­sue re­minded me of my great grand­mother Emily, who mar­ried her step­son! In 1882, in Birm­ing­ham, Emily, a 27-year-old widow with four young chil­dren, mar­ried my great grand­fa­ther Wil­liam, a wid­ower in his 60s with grown chil­dren. They had my grand­fa­ther Arthur in 1886 and Wil­liam died two years later. In 1889 Emily then mar­ried Fred­er­ick, one of Wil­liam’s grown sons. They did marry in a church – but I can’t imag­ine how they ex­plained their same last name.

In the 1891, census their house­hold in­cluded a son from Emily’s first mar­riage, a daugh­ter from Fred­er­ick’s se­cond mar­riage, and my grand­fa­ther. Next door lived a grown son from Fred­er­ick’s first mar­riage and two sons from Fred­er­ick’s se­cond mar­riage. Talk about a blended fam­ily! Emily and Fred­er­ick had a son of their own in 1896, but Emily died a few months later in 1897.

My grand­fa­ther never spoke about his fam­ily to my mother, so I dis­cov­ered all this by piec­ing to­gether all the doc­u­men­ta­tion – it took a while to be­lieve what I least in Cumberland there were far fewer peo­ple to in­ves­ti­gate! John Tay­lor, Stock­port found. I as­sume their mar­riage might have been il­le­gal and won­der if the law ac­tu­ally spec­i­fied step-rel­a­tives? Deborah Vin­ing, Ottawa, Canada Editor replies: A blended fam­ily in­deed! I spoke to our mar­riage law ex­pert Re­becca Probert who said: “Yes, this mar­riage would have been void. The pro­hib­ited de­grees were all set out by Arch­bishop Parker in 1563 and in­cluded a hus­band’s son. Sub­se­quent leg­is­la­tion Editor replies: Hav­ing Tay­lors on my fam­ily tree. I can iden­tify with you John. I hope you read our Mas­ter­class on elim­i­nat­ing peo­ple with the same name in our Sum­mer is­sue – it was full of handy tips on deal­ing with the prob­lems we all come across at some time in en­sur­ing we have the right can­di­date. tended to re­fer sim­ply to the pro­hib­ited de­grees – it’s not un­til 1949 that you get a full list set out in statute.”

Alan Crosby points out out­landish claims by ge­neal­o­gists in the past

You can find a lot of de­tail in asy­lum records

Our reader’s an­ces­tor Emily on the 1891 census census, il­le­gally mar­ried and liv­ing with the son of her hus­band who had died five years be­fore­hand

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