There is a story in my family about a cousin who had a child just after WW2 (the cousin is deceased and the child doesn't mind details being made public but they aren't necessary to this question).

The mother told everyone for the rest of her life that she had married the father, but only discovered that he had married her bigamously when the police turned up at her hospital bed to tell her the father had died in a motorcycle accident on his way to see his new child, and oh by the way there was another (previous) wife... Personally, I don't believe a word of it, but want to confirm or refute it with evidence.

How should I expect to find the reported marriage and subsequent events recorded? Would any changes have been made to the GRO indices for the marriage when bigamy was identified? And would this have been different if bigamy was identified prior to the death of the bigamous partner?

I will also search for newspaper reports of the fatal accident but don't expect any newspaper coverage of the bigamy as the bigamous individual was dead and thus a little hard to prosecute; if he had been alive when the problem was discovered, newspaper reports of the prosecution would be another angle to investigate.

1 Answer 1


I doubt whether the index, or indeed the register itself, will have been altered.

I have a bigamous marriage in my tree, which occurred in 1919, and I have a copy of the marriage certificate and there is no indication of anything untoward on it despite the fact that he was later discovered, and indeed convicted at the Old Bailey in 1920.

In fact the only reason I originally worked out what had happened is that the marriage seemed to be listed twice in the index, so I ordered both certificates (one from 1919 and one from 1925) and they were clearly both for the same couple although in the first he had adopted a somewhat liberal attitude to some of the facts.

So yes, they married bigamously, were found out fairly quickly, and then married again once, presumably, he had managed to divorce his first wife!

Incidentally, and in case you were wondering, the second marriage certificate makes no mention of it either, although it does now accurately describe him as "the divorced husband of X" rather than "bachelor" like the first one. It also correctly lists his father's occupation as retired police constable unlike the first one!

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.