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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
      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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    • HQ93rd@aol.com
      In a message dated 1/08/01 7:16:02 AM, cwattie@nationalpost.com writes:
      Message 2 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
        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 3 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
          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 4 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
            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 5 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
              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 6 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
                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 7 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
                  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 8 of 12 , Aug 2, 2001
                    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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