I’ve come to the conclusion that there is circumstantial, though not conclusive evidence, that the Elizabeth Robb who married Edmund Vineer in 1842 was my great-great-aunt, and if this turns out to be the case, then she was committing bigamy by doing so. As I noted in the last post, it’s unclear whether Edmund was aware of Elizabeth’s married status at the time of their wedding. However, it’s apparent that by 1851, nine years after he had married Elizabeth at the parish church in Paddington, Edmund wanted nothing more to do with the marriage.
Edmund Vineer in the 1851 census (via ancestry.co.uk)
Edmund’s description of himself as ‘unmarried’ in the census record of 1851 is curious. By this stage, he was back living with his widowed mother Ann and his younger siblings in Islington. If the Elizabeth Robb that he married in 1842 was indeed my great-great-aunt, then we know that she was still alive at this date, so Edmund was still legally married. But even if Elizabeth turns out to be a different person with the same name, and she had died in the meantime, then surely Edmund would have described himself as a widower, indicated by a ‘W’ in the relevant column of the census record? One can only conclude that Edmund Vineer described himself as ‘unmarried’ in order to cover over all traces of his marriage to Elizabeth Robb.
The 1851 census was taken in March of that year. In November Edmund Vineer was still appearing at the Surrey Music Hall in Southwark, but by September 1852 he was directing the orchestra at Rendle’s Concert Hall in Portsea, Portsmouth, which was also the home town of Sarah Eliza Plucknett, whom he would marry three years later. It’s possible that Edmund had already met Sarah Eliza, and may even have been engaged to her, when the 1851 census was taken, giving him a powerful motive for describing himself as ‘unmarried’.
Alverstoke, Hampshire, where Edmund Vineer and Sarah Eliza Plucknett were married in 1855.
As in the case of Elizabeth Robb, then, the evidence for Edmund Vineer being a bigamist is circumstantial rather than conclusive. If we could prove that the Elizabeth Robb whom he married in 1842 was not my ancestor, and we could also find evidence that she had died before 1855, then we could be certain that Edmund did not commit bigamy when he married Sarah Eliza Plucknett at Alverstoke, near Gosport in Hampshire.
If not, then some time in the last quarter of 1855 Edmund John Vineer made himself a bigamist. Ironically, just a few months before, my great-great-aunt Elizabeth Robb had ceased to be a bigamist, when her (first) husband Joseph Boden died.