The last post established beyond reasonable doubt that Derbyshire-born dentist Joseph Boden committed bigamy when he married my great-great-aunt Elizabeth Robb in February 1841. But what of Elizabeth herself? Did she also become a bigamist a year later, by marrying piano teacher and music hall performer Edmund Vineer?
Early Victorian music hall: Green Gate Tavern, London, in 1854 (via http://www.vam.ac.uk)
What is the evidence that the Elizabeth Robb who married Edmund Vineer in February 1842 was my already-married ancestor? To be honest, I don’t think it’s quite as conclusive as the evidence against Joseph Boden. As mentioned in a previous post, the parish register at the church of St Mary, Paddington, states that the Elizabeth Robb who married Edmund Vineer had a father named Charles and that he was a ‘gentleman’. These facts were undoubtedly true of my great-great-aunt, and in fact her father (my great-great-great-grandfather) was described in those terms at the time of Elizabeth’s wedding to Joseph Boden a year earlier.
On the other hand, the statement that Edmund Vineer’s bride was, like him, a minor, was certainly not true of ‘my’ Elizabeth Robb: she had celebrated her twenty-first birthday in the previous June. This minor fib might be given, but it does raise the question as to who validated the marriage of these two apparent ‘minors’? As for the claim in the register that Elizabeth was living in Bayswater, if this were a bigamous marriage, then surely the guilty party would want to disguise her true address? I suspect that Joseph Boden did this when he married Elizabeth and gave Great Castle Street as his address, rather than the house in Gresse Street where he and Georgiana Boden had set up home. (Unless, of course, he and Georgiana had separated, or she had made him leave, by then?) And we’ve already expressed suspicions that Edmund might not have been compeletely truthful when he gave his address as Salem Gardens, also in Bayswater.
Young love, Victorian style (via www.angelpig.net)
So, these negative factors – Elizabeth Robb’s age and her address – don’t necessarily rule out the possibility of this being the same person who had married Joseph Boden a year earlier. At the same time, the name and status of Elizabeth’s father are circumstantial rather than decisive factors in support of that possibility. But, as I’ve noted before, these circumstantial factors are given additional weight by the absence of another Elizabeth Robb with a father named Charles living in London, and certainly in Bayswater, at this time.
Another piece of circumstantial evidence to weigh in the balance is the fact that the marriage of Edmund Vineer and Elizabeth Robb appears not have lasted very long. By 1851, Edmund was claiming to be unmarried. I’ll explore the claim that Edmund Vineer was a bigamist in the next post. For now, the brevity of his marriage to Elizabeth Robb makes me wonder why she entered into this arrangement in the first place. If this was indeed my great-great-aunt, then at the very least her decision to marry Edmund Vineer suggests that she was unhappy in her marriage to Joseph Boden. Did Elizabeth find out that Joseph was already married, and did that discovery prompt her to seek revenge in a bigamous marriage of her own? Or was Edmund Vineer simply the lover she ran to when her marriage to Joseph turned sour? If so, how did she meet him: perhaps he was her music teacher? Did she tell Edmund that she was already married, or did he discover this later and then cast her off, attempting to pretend that this illegal marriage had never happened?