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identifying bigamy-need your advice/research skills

Replies: 2

identifying bigamy-need your advice/research skills

Posted: 18 Dec 2012 10:50AM GMT
Classification: Query
I posted this in the surname forum a few weeks ago, but I'm thinking that it might be better here. I would love your opinions on the situation (and possibly your research skills). That doesn't require having anything to do with the Armstrong family itself, just genealogical research skills.

I have a bit of a puzzle on my hands. I'm hoping you all can give me some insight or advice.

It would appear as if my great great grandmother, Sarah Rice (born around 1862-Durham, England), might have been a bigamist. It seems as if she married Ralph Armstrong in 1880 Northumberland, England. It then looks like she ran away with his brother, George Armstrong (born around 1854, NorthumberlandEngland), in 1882 to Scotland. They had a baby out of wedlock (Edith Armstrong-born 17 Aug 1882) and married one month later, both in Glasgow.

I have a copy of the birth registry for Edith which states her parents as George Armstrong and Sarah Rice. I have a marriage record for Sarah and George. This lists his parents as Joseph Armstrong and Mary Lawther or Lowther (this might be a red herring-explain later). It lists her parents as Lawrence Rice and Mary Norwood.

I can see Sarah on the English census for 1881, apparently married to Ralph. I also see George living with his parents at that time. I cannot find either of them, or their daughter, on any census after that (in Scotland or in England).

Originally I had found a tree indicating that George's father was married to a Mary Haining. I put this on my tentative tree. When I found George and Sarah's marriage record, I amended the last name as it was given on the record-from Haining to Lawther/Lowther. I CAN find a record indicating that a Joseph Armstrong possibly married a woman by that name, but the marriage to Mary Haining is much better documented.

In the 1881 census (which has Sarah married to Ralph), there's an infant daughter, named Mary J, in the house as well. I'm currently trying to search to find out where she ended up, as she's not on the 1891 census with her father. I've played with the idea that she went to another family, that she died, or that Edith Armstrong is really Mary J. I can't get over the idea that it would not have been impossible to register her as a brand new baby.

I contacted the owner of the tree I'd connected to and chatted with them. We both became suspicious that something was going on with this family. We both wonder if the different last name of the mother was just an attempt to hide themselves.

I'm pretty new to this, so it's very possible that I've just made a mistake somewhere. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
couponcoconut 18 Dec 2012 5:50PM GMT 
timtracker 19 Dec 2012 6:52AM GMT 
couponcoconut 20 Dec 2012 4:29PM GMT 
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