The Tale of Two Marriages

clip_image002Today I have been helping a friend to climb over the brick wall he had hit a while back regarding his Irish ancestors. There is so much more on the internet now that he, his wife & I thought we would see if we could extend his family tree back another generation or two.

To cut a long story short, this ancestor had been in the British Army Pay Corp for 21 years, he enlisted in 1896 in co. Cork. We found his army pension record on Ancestry and he states that he married in Kingston upon Thames in 1902 and had 4 children born from 1905 onwards. “That’s not right” said my friend Wendy I’ve got a marriage certificate for that couple, they married in 1900 in Woolwich and they had a daughter in 1901.

We checked FreeBMD website and yes the couple married twice!!! Why goodness knows, but all we could think was that the first time had been without Army permission and to get his wife onto the army marriage list and therefore being paid a married man’s rate he had to produce a marriage certificate. The one for 1900 wouldn’t do as it would have him up on a charge with his senior officer for marrying without permission. So the only thing to do was get married again!!!

Anyone else come across this situation?

Technorati Tags: Genealogy,Family History


  1. I had one ancestor baptised twice. She was born before her parents were married and was baptised after her birth, and again after the marriage. I guess one was “for God” and the other “for the records”.

    How are you with tracking people who have disappeared from the mainstream records? I have an ancestor born in 1826 in Wales who produced at least 3, possibly 4 sons to different men but disappeared from the records by the time she was 30. No UK death, marriage, census, poorhouse/asylum, death/marriage at sea, immigration (unless she hopped over to Ireland, but nothing there has been found….).

  2. Joseph Wearing says:

    I have a situation in my family which is somewhat similar. My gr-gr-grandfather, Thomas Thompson, was an officer in the British Fencible Regiments from 1794 to 1802. According to his return in “Service of Officers (Retired) on Full Pay and Half Pay” made in 1828, he claimed that he and Isabella Campbell were married in Omagh, Co. Tyrone, just two months before leaving the army and that their first child was born in the same month. He also provides the birth dates of all their subsequent children. I have never been able to find a record of the marriage, which, given the problems with Irish parish registers, is not surprising. However, what is rather more surprising is that the surviving baptism records of his children are all a few years previous to the birth dates given by their father. This makes me wonder if the marriage occurred in 1799 or 1800 rather than 1802 and for some reason, Thomas did not want to admit to this in his return. Would he have had to seek permission from Army authorities to marry?

  3. Hi Mike & Joseph,
    Thank you for your comments on this somewhat unusual situation. The answer to your query Joseph is that yes a soldier does have to seek permission to marry. The carrot for getting permission was that they got an extra allowance for the wife and any children, but of course the army might well ask for proof. I seem to remember reading somewhere that at one time only so many married soldiers were allowed per unit and this might explain the marriages not reported to the army.
    Interesting what genealogy brings to the fore isn’t it!

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