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Re: [WarOf1812] Soldier's Wife

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  • Raymond Hobbs
    Erika: This is not a yes or no answer, but a further complication of the question! I believe the marriage laws in England which were effective in 1812
    Message 1 of 12 , Aug 1, 2001
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      Erika:
      This is not a 'yes' or 'no' answer, but a further complication of the question! I believe the marriage laws in England which were effective in 1812 were originally
      passed by Parliament in 1754 - I do not have a copy, but a law library at a university law school would.
      The complication is further compounded by the recognition or not, of Roman Catholic or Dissenting marriages under these laws. By the end of the 18th and early 19th
      centuries, such marriages were being licensed in England, and indeed in Upper Canada, but only after a petition in individual cases.
      Regarding the wife - if she made it back to the regimental barracks town after being rejected on the dock (I believe she was given passage to the next county!!!), then
      she could get information on her husband from the regimental HQ. Overseas regiments still maintained HQs in the home country. Regular monthly returns were kept in the
      HQ, so she would know whether her husband was alive or dead.
      English marriage laws were revised thoroughly inthe 1850s - to take into account vast social changes which had followed the Industrial Revolution.
      This is a fascinating thread - George Ferguson of the 100th Regt. was fortunate. His wife was chosen by lot to accompany him to Canada in 1812. Dozens were rejected on
      the dock at Portland, Isle of Wight, after following the regiment from Dublin. He describes the scene as a glimpse of hell with the shrieks and wails of the rejected.
      Ray Hobbs
      1/41st Foot (CD)

      Erika Reinhardt wrote:

      > Here's a question I always wondered about,
      >
      > If your husband is a soldier and is shipped of to fight in a war a thousand
      > miles away, and you ARE NOT selected to "follow" the camp, Would it be
      > acceptable for the wife to eventually remarry if several years have past and
      > she hasn't heard anything from or about her husband?
      >
      > Erika R.
      >
      > _________________________________________________________________
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      >
      >
      > The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...
      >
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    • James Aldrich
      ... That s what I was thinking. My further undocumented opinion is that, given the British armed forces obsession with record keeping, it would be unlikely
      Message 2 of 12 , Aug 1, 2001
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        Larry Lozon wrote:

        >
        > I would imagine that it would be like today, if you had
        > not received official documentation that your husband
        > was deceased you would be considered still married
        > and not eligible to remarry.
        >
        > No documentation just my humble opinion.
        >

        That's what I was thinking. My further undocumented opinion is that, given the British armed forces obsession with record keeping, it would be unlikely for a man to be
        unaccounted for over any significant length of time. Even if he wanted to be lost.

        JSA
        --
        Green Bay Lacrosse-- Play hard; play often.
      • Cpl. Wattie
        It almost certainly happened, given the difficulty of communications, distances and human nature. One of the American Patriot Hunters who invaded Prescott,
        Message 3 of 12 , Aug 1, 2001
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          It almost certainly happened, given the difficulty of communications, distances and human nature.
          One of the American "Patriot Hunters" who invaded Prescott, Ont., in 1838 and was deported to VanDiemen's Land after the Battle
          of the Windmill managed to make his way back to the U.S. years later (in the 1840s I believe) only to find his wife had remarried
          in his absence.
          He can't have been the only one to have that happen.

          > Here's a question I always wondered about,
          >
          > If your husband is a soldier and is shipped of to fight in a war a thousand
          > miles away, and you ARE NOT selected to "follow" the camp, Would it be
          > acceptable for the wife to eventually remarry if several years have past and
          > she hasn't heard anything from or about her husband?
          >
          > Erika R.
          >
          > _________________________________________________________________
          > Get your FREE download of MSN Explorer at http://explorer.msn.com/intl.asp
        • HQ93rd@aol.com
          In a message dated 1/08/01 7:16:02 AM, cwattie@nationalpost.com writes:
          Message 4 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
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            In a message dated 1/08/01 7:16:02 AM, cwattie@... writes:

            << only to find his wife had remarried
            in his absence.
            He can't have been the only one to have that happen. >>

            And don't forget all the hilarity ensuing twixt Doris Day and ...(James
            Garner?) when she was lost on a desert island for some years with Chuck
            Connors!..
            Gad!
            B..zzzzzzzzzz
            93rd SHRoFLHU
            THE Thin Red Line
            www.93rdhighlanders.com
          • Five Rivers
            My books are still packed and so I cannot quote the source, but my recollection is there was a common law in England stating if after seven years a husband (or
            Message 5 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
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              My books are still packed and so I cannot quote the source, but my
              recollection is there was a common law in England stating if after seven
              years a husband (or wife) had not returned they were considered dead and the
              remaining spouse was free to remarry, barring any caveats the Church (Rome
              or England) might have placed upon the couple.

              Lorina
              Five Rivers Chapmanry ~ purveyors of quality hand-crafted cooperage
              fine hand-sewn embroidered garments, historical sewing patterns & embroidery
              supplies
              (519) 799-5577, fax (519) 799-5418 http://www.5rivers.org email:
              info@...
            • Raymond Hobbs
              Mmmm! Linda, I wonder whether this was so. The 41st Regiment of Foot, of honoured memory, were stationed in the Canadas for sixteen years (1799-1815). Would
              Message 6 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
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                Mmmm! Linda, I wonder whether this was so. The 41st Regiment of Foot, of honoured memory, were stationed in the Canadas for sixteen years (1799-1815). Would the
                married rank and file be considered dead because of this? The matter - like all we raise - was more complex.
                YH&OS
                Ray Hobbs
                1/41st Regiment of Foot (CD)

                Five Rivers wrote:

                > My books are still packed and so I cannot quote the source, but my
                > recollection is there was a common law in England stating if after seven
                > years a husband (or wife) had not returned they were considered dead and the
                > remaining spouse was free to remarry, barring any caveats the Church (Rome
                > or England) might have placed upon the couple.
                >
                > Lorina
                > Five Rivers Chapmanry ~ purveyors of quality hand-crafted cooperage
                > fine hand-sewn embroidered garments, historical sewing patterns & embroidery
                > supplies
                > (519) 799-5577, fax (519) 799-5418 http://www.5rivers.org email:
                > info@...
                >
                >
                > The War of 1812: In Europe, thousands fought over the fate of hundreds of square miles: in North America, hundreds determined the fate of THOUSANDS of square miles...
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
              • Shawn Cromett
                According to Haythornewaite s Wellington s Army, wives who were not selected by the lottery to accompany their soldier husbands were to return to their home
                Message 7 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
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                  According to Haythornewaite's Wellington's Army, wives who were not
                  selected by the lottery to accompany their soldier husbands were to
                  return to their home parish, where they would be supported by that
                  parish until their husband's return. Being on parish charity, was I'm
                  sure, a very miserable experience. I have no idea if there was any
                  communication from the regimental depot with the parishes to keep the
                  wives informed on their husband's survival or not, though presumably
                  there would have been, if nothing else, to know when the now widow
                  was to be cut off from any more financial aid.

                  ~Shawn
                • petemonahan@aol.com
                  Erika Re your soldier s wives question: As someone has already pointed out, the Br. Army kept impecable records, so that presumably anyone recorded as
                  Message 8 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
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                    Erika

                    Re your "soldier's wives" question:

                    As someone has already pointed out, the Br. Army kept impecable records, so
                    that presumably anyone recorded as married "on the strength" would be carried
                    as such even if he and his wife were separated. On the other hand, only six
                    men per hundred were to be married (officially) per regulations and that was
                    the number authorized to take dependants overseas. Therefore, it follows
                    that in most regiments many of the 'married' men would have either married
                    without permission or simply be living as 'married" with women regarded by
                    all except the (War Department ) as their wives. It's also almost certainly
                    the case that a large percentage of the couples from the social classes in
                    which the Br. Army recruited never went before a parson. Men and women
                    simply "took up together" and were regarded be one and all as married as long
                    as they chooses to live as a couple.

                    Having said all that, through in the fact that on campaign women who were
                    widowed might have as liittle as 72 hours to "re-marry" before a colonel
                    could legally declare them "lose women" and have them drummed out of camp.
                    Obviously such "marriages" were a matter of common knowledge and company or
                    battalion level paper-work, not civil or divine ceremony.

                    Combine all these facts with the certainty that almost no private soldier
                    shipped out without his "wife" would ever see her again and the extreme
                    unlikelihood that he would be able to send her financial suport and it
                    becomes a virtual certainty that women "left on the docks" were considered
                    for all practical purposes to have been divorced/widowed! There are in fact
                    any number of accounts of old soldiers eventually making their way home to
                    find wives re-married - which would be regraded as unfortunate/tragic but in
                    no way a slur on the woman. Her alternatives, after all, were starving or
                    "going on the game" and selling her body. (In fact in rural England as late
                    as the 1820's, literally selling an unsatisfactory wife was not unheard of
                    either.) Those old folk songs about dressing up as a man and going along
                    with her man to the wars probably had more to do with desperation than an
                    excess of romantic love and passion: marriage was an economic necessity for
                    women in the 19th century, as the world of women (at least lower class ones)
                    was divided into girls, wives, very poor widows and whores!

                    A long-winded answer to your question, but I wanted to give you the reasoning
                    behind it: any abondoned wife would be regarded as simply doing what she had
                    to to survive if she took a new husband if her husband went to the wars; no
                    surprise, no shame, simply "the way things worked". Hope all this helps!

                    Your most humble and obedient servant,
                    Peter Monahan, Corporal, Royal Newfoundland Regiment
                  • petemonahan@aol.com
                    Erika Just read some of the other answer s to your query. Both the seven year rule and parish charity are correct so far as they go, which would be: if
                    Message 9 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
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                      Erika

                      Just read some of the other answer's to your query. Both the "seven year
                      rule" and "parish charity" are correct so far as they go, which would be: if
                      she had papers showing she was officially married "on the strength" and if
                      the parish would accept them. Keep in mind that clearing out the parish
                      workhouse was often done by having the men recruited into the Army: "Good
                      luck and don't ever come back!" Alzo, seven years would be a h--l of a time
                      to wait on widowhood, living on grass soup the while, so, as with today, what
                      the law said and what people did might be markedly different. If you're
                      working up an historic impression, claiming that your hubby went for a
                      soldier several years aggo and you've got a new one would undoubtedly be
                      historically accurate in many many cases!

                      Yr M H & O
                      P. Monahan
                    • yawors1@uwindsor.ca
                      Five Rivers wrote: [snip] my recollection is there was a common law in England stating if after seven years a husband (or wife) had not returned they were
                      Message 10 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
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                        Five Rivers wrote:

                        [snip] my recollection is there was a common law in England stating if
                        after seven years a husband (or wife) had not returned they were considered
                        dead and the remaining spouse was free to remarry, barring any caveats the
                        Church (Rome or England) might have placed upon the couple.

                        Lorina

                        Ray Hobbs added:
                        Mmmm! Linda, I wonder whether this was so. The 41st Regiment of Foot, of
                        honoured memory, were stationed in the Canadas for sixteen years
                        (1799-1815). Would the married rank and file be considered dead because of
                        this? The matter - like all we raise - was more complex.
                        YH&OS
                        Ray Hobbs
                        1/41st Regiment of Foot (CD)

                        Jim adds: I think the Common Law says 7 years absence = "legally" dead.
                        But "absence" means: whereabouts totally unknown.
                        Which of course would not apply if everyone knows one was serving on
                        blockade duty on one of HM ships, or garrisoning a hill station in India,
                        etc...
                        Now, if the soldier or sailor deserted , and then "disappeared" for seven
                        years, or went missing in action etc., the wife could apply for an order
                        that he was legally dead... which makes her a widow, who could then legally
                        remarry.
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