Bigamy

Black Sheep Sunday – Dent Stowell (1882-1948) – part 2

Black Sheep Sunday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites.

To participate in Black Sheep Sunday simply create a post with the main focus being an ancestor with a “shaded past.”

This is the second part of a three blog post series about Dent Stowell, my 2nd cousin 3x removed. Here’s a link to part one from last week – Military Monday

So to recap we left the story when Dent had been demobbed following the end of WW1.

I was then able to find Dent in the 1939 Register, completed at the start of WW2. He is living at 1 Grove Street, Burnley, Lancashire with his wife Helen.

Now then this is where my problem starts – in 1907 he was married to Rose Ann Cairns. Now here he is living with Helen. So what has happened over the twenty years since he was demobbed.

I began by searching the available records on http://www.ancestry.co.uk and http://www.findmypast.co.uk.

I got several results. There was an entry in the UK incoming passenger lists and some newspaper articles.

Let’s start with one of the newspaper articles – they are mostly the same. This transcript is from the Burnley Express of 22 April 1933.

Burnley Express 22 Apr 1933WARTIME ROMANCE SHATTERED

ALLEGED BIGAMY SEUQEL TO                      SOLDIERS MARRIAGE

BURNLEY MOTOR DRIVER’S AMAZING COURT REVELATIONS

Remarkable allegations that during his leaves from France during the war, in which he was wounded thrice, his wife “chased him back before his time was up, told him she did not want to see him again, and wished the Germans would kill him next time out”, were made by an ex-Service man who appeared before the magistrates in the Burnley Police Court, last Wednesday, on a charge of alleged bigamy.

The accused, Dent Stowell (50), described as a motor driver, and living at 15 Tunnel Street, Burnley, was stated to have been three times wounded while serving in France during the war with the famous Scottish regiment, the Black Watch. In a statement at the close of the evidence against him, Stowell said the Burnley woman to whom he was originally married “chased him back” every time he came home on leave from France, telling him she “did not want to see him again,” and wishing the Germans “would kill him next time out.”

Committed for Trial

Stowell, who was committed to Manchester Assizes for trial, was alleged to have married Helen Gordon, at Carlisle Parish Church, on January 27th, 1918, while his wife, a Burnley woman, whom he had married at St Matthew’s Church, Burnley, on January 5th, 1907, was still alive. It was stated that there were three surviving children of the Burnley marriage, and that Stowell had four children by the other woman.

Mr E S Smith, of the Town Clerk’s Department, appearing for the prosecution, said the alleged bigamy was a “war story.” The Burnley marriage was witnessed by William Gilbert and his wife, Anastasia Gilbert, then residing at Fielden Street, Burnley. After the marriage the couple went to live at the home of the husband’s sister, Mrs Brotherton, St. Matthew Street. Afterwards they lived at various Burnley addresses, and ultimately at 2 Zion Street, where Mrs Stowell resided. Prisoner at the outbreak of war was a reservist in the Black Watch Regiment, and he was sent to Perth, Scotland, to join up there. He was drafted to France, and in October, 1914, came home wounded for the first time. He lived with his wife at Burnley while at home then, and also on coming home on leave on several occasions. He was again wounded more than once, and on the last occasion was transferred, after recovery, to the Mechanical Transport Section, and stationed in London. After the Armistice he returned to his wife in Burnley, and later was again with his regiment. Then, owing to his being missing from his depot, his wife’s Army allowance was stopped for a time. He returned to his regiment , and his wife again received her payments.

Sailed for Canada

About Easter, 1919 (Mr Smith continued), Mrs Stowell had a letter from him, stating that he was expecting his discharge from the Army. But he did not return home, and she found that he had sailed for Canada. It was discovered that prior to his coming home for the last time to his wife in Burnley he had gone through a form of marriage at Carlisle, the ceremony taking place at the Parish Church there on January 27th, 1918. He was then fully aware that his lawful wife was alive.

Mrs Rose Ann Stowell, of 2 Zion Street, Burnley, stated that she was living there with her son. She spoke to having married accused at St Matthews Church, Burnley, on the date alleged, and she identified a certificate produced as being that of the marriage. Her maiden name was Cairns. They first lived with her husband’s sister at 76 St. Matthew Street. There were three children of the marriage alive, the youngest being now 21. They lived together happily until the commencement of the war, when he was sent to Perth to join his regiment, the Black Watch. He afterwards went to France and was wounded three times, on each occasion coming to their home in Burnley, and being transferred after his last wound to London. He came home on Armistice night and stayed two or three days. About Christmas that year her allowance was stopped by the Army authorities owing to accused’s absence for a time from his regiment. During that period, however, she received letters from him through his depot, though he was not there.

Husband’s Allegations

About Easter, 1919 (witness went on), she received a letter from prisoner stating that he was expecting to be discharged. He did not, however come home.

Have you seen him since? – Not till now.
Did you know where he had gone? – He had gone to Canada.
How did you know that? – He wrote to me for about 12 months.

Witness denied a suggestion by prisoner that the last time he was home from the Army she was running about public houses.

Prisoner: Didn’t you tell me to get back to my regiment and say that you didn’t want to see me any more alive? – and didn’t I say, “You never will see me again”? – as you never have done.

Witness: That is not the case.

Witness agreed that prisoner sent money to her and the children for the first 12 months after he went to Canada.

Prisoner: Didn’t I ask you if you would send the children to me, I would book their passages? – Yes

You would not let them come? – Why should I? They were my children.

Witness denied that she went drinking with the money prisoner sent her. She also denied a suggestion by the prisoner that she was living with a man.

Mrs Ann Anastasia Gilbert, widow, 224 Lowerhouse Lane, stated that she was present along with her husband, now dead, as a witness at prisoner’s marriage in St Matthew’s Church in 1907. On March 3rd this year she accompanied a detective officer to the Superintendent Registrar’s Office, Nicholas Street, and identified the original entry of the marriage, a copy of which was now produced.

Met in 1917

Helen Gordon, whom prisoner was alleged to have bigamously married, stated that she was now living with Stowell at 15 Tunnel Street, Burnley. She had four children, of whom he was the father.

In 1917 (winess proceeded) she was working on munitions at Carlisle, and in June of that year she met Stowell. He was then a soldier in the Black Watch, and he told he was a single man of Scottish nationality.

Did he ask yo to keep company with him? – Yes.

They went through the form of marriage at Carlisle Parish Church on January 27th, 1918. (Witness identified a certificate produced.)

Stowell afterwards went to France, and she (witness) joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and was sent to London. There she was joined later by Stowell on his being stationed in London.

In April, 1919, on his being discharged from the Army, Stowell (witness continued) sailed for Canada. She did not accompany him then, but went about three months afterwards. They lived in Canada about nine months, and then went to Detroit, United States, remaining there till January 26th, this year. She was with prisoner all that time. They returned to England on the instructions of the American emigration authorities, arriving in England on February 9th. They lived together at 194, Scalegate Road, Carlisle, till they came to Burnley.

“Drinking and Fighting”

Detective Sergeant Pullen said a warrant was issued for Stowell’s arrest on April 13th. He saw him on Tuesday this week at 15 Tunnel Street, where he was residing with his sister. He told him he had a warrant for his arrest, and Stowell replied, “Sure, when will it be tried?” When charged at the police office, he replied, “I have nothing to say.”

When asked, in the usual form, if he had anything to say, Stowell, from the dock, said: “I lived with her eight years after marriage, and was parted twice in that eight years through drinking and fighting. Every time I came on leave I had to go back before my time was up. She chased me back. I thought it impossible to live with her after the war, because she was telling me she did not want to see me again in life, and wishing the Germans would kill me next time out. She told my sister she was happy with the man she was living with now, and she did not want me back, and I don’t intend to go back.”

Prisoner was asked by the chairman of the magistrates (the Mayor) if he had been living happily with the other woman. He replied that he done so for 14 years.

Stowell was, as stated, committed for trial at Manchester Assizes. He applied for, and was allowed, bail, in his surety of £10, and another of the same amount. A friend of accused came forward as surety, and he was released.

Look out for the third and final instalment next week.

Advertisements

Research Projects

I’ve neglected my blog for over 12 months and it’s now time to devote some attention with hopefully new inspiration.

My own family tree research has slowed down considerably to the point where I seem to be just chipping away at brick walls all the time. So over the last year I have been busy doing genealogy research for other people. I must admit I find that very interesting and satisfying. It can also be challenging at times especially when things do not go as expected.

I had two particularly interesting research projects.

The first involved tales of Scandinavian heritage – so my ultimate goal was to prove or disprove the family tales.

I was able to trace the origin of the British ancestral roots back to people in the 1861 census. This included the then head of the family with an occupation of Master Mariner and birth place of Gothenburg, Sweden. There were six children, three with a birth place listed as Russia and three born in Liverpool.

It was fairly easy to track the family right up to the 1911 census – although not without some difficulties. The problems were mainly around incorrect name transcriptions in the two main online indexes.

The family name was BRUNSTRUM. However the 1861 census had been indexed as BRUMSTRUM and the family name in the GRO marriage records for the father was BRAMSTOM.

The 1871 census was to be found under BRUNSTROM. There were two more children now – one birth was recorded as BRUNSTROM and one as BRUNSTMOM.

In the 1881 census the manuscript entry looks BRUNSTON but has been indexed as BRIMSTON.

In 1891 the census entry has been indexed as BRANSTROM.

There is a marriage in 1900 and the name now becomes BRUNSTON in the GRO record. Although the census entry the following year is under BRIMSTON.

Finally in 1911 the name is still BRUNSTON and it has been indexed as that.

The research had a bit of a sad end with a newspaper article reporting the death of the great grandfather of the person I was doing the research for and one of his sons in a tragic accident.

John Percy Brunston

John Percy Brunston

The second interesting project was very recently.

I did some research for someone in Australia who has an interest my wife’s family name of Espley. In particular she wanted to trace a death for her great grandmother. Should be straightforward right!!

I started by checking the BMD records and sure enough there was no death registered. I checked various spellings of the name all without success.

OK not a problem – maybe she had remarried. No, there was no marriage recorded.

Perhaps she had emigrated? I checked the available passenger lists online – no trace.

Winifred Frances EspleyI decided to check the newspaper archives on Find My Past. Breakthrough at last.

There were various newspaper articles in the Gloucestershire Echo about the person I was looking for – she was sent to prison in 1939 for two bigamous marriages.

This revelation came as a complete shock to the person I was doing the research for.

Both of these research projects provide valuable lessons.

First of all never completely trust the transcribed indexes – always double check with the original document images wherever possible.

Secondly the discovery of information while perhaps interesting as part of the research can sometimes be tragic and also shocking for the person getting the results.