Burradoo Journal

By Burradoo

A family history puzzle

The plumber came to do some maintenance today. Apart from that, a good part of my day was taken up with this family history question (which has nothing to do with plumbing):
In 1902, Joseph Charlton married Florence Barry in St Helier, Jersey, in the Channel Islands. The question is, Why Jersey? As far as I have been able to discover, neither Joseph nor Florence had any connection at all with the Channel Islands.
The first clue is that Joseph was a widower. In 1896 he had married Grace Emma Barry in India. Grace was Florence’s older sister. She had, presumably, died, and Joseph now intended to marry his dead wife’s sister. It seems this was not all that unusual in England in the nineteenth century, but it was illegal under English law. Despite numerous attempts, that legal prohibition was not overturned until 1907. So Joseph and Florence couldn’t legally have married in England in 1902.
It seems that some couples in this situation circumvented the law by marrying 'on the continent', in France for instance, where there was no legal impediment to marrying one’s sister in law or brother in law. Jersey had, and has, its own legal system, which combines elements of English and French law. So I haven’t been able to establish this yet, but doesn’t it seem possible that Joseph and Florence went to Jersey to get married because the law there allowed them to do so? The search will continue.

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