Joseph Boden married my great-great-aunt Elizabeth Robb on Monday 22nd February 1841, two years and two months after he had married Georgiana Westbrook (see the last two posts). If my analysis of the contemporary records is correct, then Joseph was committing bigamy by marrying Elizabeth.

In February of the previous year Queen Victoria had married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. In the year that Joseph and Elizabeth were married, Thomas Cook would start organising package tours and the first issue of Punch appeared. On 6th June the first full census of Britain would be taken.

St_Martin_in_the_Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields (via wikimedia.org)

The wedding took place at the parish church of St Martin-in-the-Fields and was celebrated by the curate, Rev Septimus Fowler Ramsey. A graduate of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, Ramsey had first served as curate at St John’s church in Beverley, Yorkshire, where a report in the Yorkshire Gazette suggests that he was both a friend to Wesleyans and a forthright campaigner against slavery. In May 1832 he chaired an anti-slavery meeting at the local Methodist chapel, when he ‘addressed the meeting in very bold and energetic language, and was much cheered by the assembled auditors’.

Ramsey was appointed curate of St Martin’s and the associated chapel of St Michael, Burleigh Street, off the Strand, in 1834. Apparently a firm believer in temperance, he was praised in the Parliamentary Review of the same year for preaching ‘an eloquent, and altogether admirable Sermon’ against drunkenness. In the following year he presided at St Martin’s over what The New World: a Weekly Family Journal of Popular Literature, Science, Art and News described as ‘one of the strangest scenes that has probably ever been witnessed within its walls – namely the marriage of Alexander Cadotte, otherwise Not-enn-a-akm, or “The Strong Wind”, interpreter of the Ojibbeway Indians, now in the metropolis, to Miss Sarah Haynes, aged 18, daughter of Mr Haynes, a respectable carver and gilder, residing in Great George-street, Hampstead-road.’

In 1847 Ramsey would stand trial accused of indecently assaulting a Mrs Charlotte Emerson, a member of the church choir. According to the London Evening Standard the trial ‘appeared to excite intense interest’ and the court was ‘crammed’ . His parishioners, at least, believed in Ramsey’s innocence. The Western Times reported that the congregation of St Michael’s, Burleigh Street, subscribed to pay the costs incurred by their minister ‘in defending himself against the atrocious charge’, and in addition to defraying the £600 in legal costs, ‘have also presented the rev. gentleman with a beautiful silver vase, and a purse of 280 sovereigns, in testimony of their admiration and his christian character’.

Boden Robb marriage screen shot

The marriage certificate of Joseph Boden and Elizabeth Robb in the parish register of St-Martin-in-the-Fields

The parish register of St Martin-in-the-Fields describes Elizabeth Robb as a ‘spinster’ and as a ‘minor’: she was four months away from her twenty-first birthday. Elizabeth’s address was given as Charing Cross, which was her family home, and her father, Charles Robb, described his rank as ‘gent’. Charles, my great-great-great-grandfather, was one of the witnesses to the marriage.

Joseph Boden gave his profession as dentist and his address as 32 Great Castle Street, a road which ran parallel and to the north of Oxford Street. It was just a few streets away from Gresse Street, the address that Joseph had given at the time of his marriage to Georgiana Westbrook in 1838. I suppose it’s possible that there were two dentists named Joseph Boden operating in the Oxford Street area of London at that time, both of them sons of farmers named John, but it seems unlikely. Joseph’s signature in the register at St Martin’s is slightly different from that on the certificate of his marriage to Gloriana Westbrook two years earlier, but this might be explained by the groom’s desire to disguise the fact that he was already married.

The second witness to the marriage was a certain Margaret Wright. Could she be the Glasgow-born woman of that name who was living in the Regent’s Park area at the time of the 1841 and 1851 censuses? This Margaret was the wife of a certain James Wright, also born in Scotland, who was, like Joseph Boden, a dentist. But if James Wright was yet another colleague of Joseph’s, then surely he and his wife would have known about the latter’s first marriage to Georgiana?

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