Friday, 5 February 2010

5th: What's the word for a serial bigamist?

(other than cad and bounder and several other stronger terms I suppose).

The answer appears to be two words, you call him "Robert FAIRBAIRN".

Sue (of Clapham nurserymen fame) and I have strayed onto a cooper Robert instead of her nurserymen FAIRBAIRNs for a while, having found this chap in passing:
There's a Robert born abt 1817 in St Giles, London.
We’ve figured out that his first wife Elizabeth Stedman OSBORN(E) had died in 1849 and that he had remarried a Frances YELVERTON nee HUBBARD in 1852.
I may or may not have mentioned the trail for an Elizabeth aged 3 with what looked like a sister Elizabeth aged 6 that I eventually rationalised as being the Alexina who was baptised as such with her sister Elizabeth on the same day, but born in the right timeframes to identify the 3 yr old as Alexina.
I figured the enumerator had been told she was Lexie, heard it as Lizzie, and wrote Elizabeth (by 1871 she’s Alesandra, and the only likely matching birth reg. we can find is indexed as Alexander)
Anyway, by 1861 she is recorded in the census as Angelina, living with step mum Frances and older sister Elizabeth, with Robert nowhere to be found (yet), and Frances giving her occupation as “supported by husband”, and showing as married.
Frances continues thru 1871 as “married” with both (step) dtrs with her, and by 1881 is an imbecile, widowed, in the infirmary workhouse.
Then in 1881 up pops a cooper Robert of the right age and birth place, married to a much younger Jane, with three children, Louisa, Frank and Eliza, aged 13, 4 and 1
But none of them anywhere to be found in 1871. (and we cannot find Jane/Louisa with or without a FAIRBAIRN surname in 1871)
Two people researching this latter tree believed their Robert and Jane had indeed been married before, but to an Elizabeth CASTLE, which neither Sue nor I can corroborate.
We thought we were onto the trail of a bigamist, or at least a two-timer, as we could not find a marriage to Jane.

Sue thought she'd cracked it, sending me a simple email saying:
“could be why we can’t find him in 1871”, with a link.
The link was to the criminal registers, with the source showing a Robert FAIRBAIRN, imprisoned for 3 mos for bigamy days before the 1871 census.
On the surface, case solved.
(The Old Bailey Proceedings actually call him Robert FAIRBURN).
Far from it and what an interesting journey that turned out to be and all.
I went to the newspapers. The 19th Century British newspaper collection came up trumps with two separate reports.
One going on about a Richard Fairbairn and bigamy sentences saying it was right that he got the lighter sentence of the two bigamists tried that day as his “wife” knowingly married him, whereas the other chap had deceived his wife.
I could identify that the bigamous marriage was likely the marriage of a Robert to Ann Jane MOORE, the other pair of that marriage page being identified elsewhere, in qtr 1 of 1871. Turns out it was complete coincidence that I found the right one, as I was specifically looking for a Robert/Jane marriage.
The report said he first married in 1864 – which would fit a date for an 1868ish Louisa born to Jane and our cooper.
BUT, the 1864 marriage turns out to be a Richard Robert FAIRBAIRN marrying Mary Elizabeth DOYLE, which you’ve probably guessed by now, was “known to us”.
She was the first wife of father of Richard Robert FAIRBAIRN, the Worcester politician of the 1890s, and one of the lines of the Clapham nurserymen.
Full circle I think you can call that.
But wait, there’s more.
This chap was a lighterman, and obviously a budding politician in his own right, as earlier in the year newspaper reports show an R FAIRBAIRN representing 8000 lighterman pushing for the Admiralty to get some law thru parliament.
But that little bit of history aside, this newly proven bigamist was already identified as a bigamist as I’d much earlier found his marriage in Canada in 1875 when he says he’s a widower.
He brings the Canadian wife back to London between 1876, birth of first dtr Ann Jane Agnes FAIRBAIRN in Toronto, and 1881 when first wife divorces him, and he’s living with the rest of his new family in Bermondsey.
If I’d found the other newspaper report first, a Lloyd’s Weekly Register report of the Old Bailey trials which gave dates and first wife’s forenames, the journey may have been shorter, but I suspect I’d have missed a step or two of discovery along the way.
So, there’s such a thing as serial bigamy!
Fancy calling your first child by your second bigamist marriage the name of your 1st bigamist wife!!
We still haven’t proved that the Robert / Jane that started this lot is definitely one and the same cooper Robert we're looking for.

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