One unforeseen effect of mobilisations in the First World War was a spike in numbers of those appearing in court charged with bigamy after war ceased. On 18 October 1919 five people were charged with bigamy at Norfolk and Norwich Assizes court. Here are their stories:
Ex-soldier James McCormack from Lanarkshire, Scotland, bigamously married Ethel Kemp in December 1918 after she had a baby by him. He had told her he was single and from Canada where his father had a ranch.
Louisa Page had first married 30 years before her court appearances for bigamy but was ‘fetched away’ by her mother after ill-treatment by her husband. She married bigamously under her maiden name and already lived with her ‘second husband’ before she married him.
Former Staff Sergeant Joseph Chatham bigamously married Mary Tate in 1917. Separation allowance was paid to his legal wife by the army, but he gave Mary an allowance. Both women visited Joseph in hospital when he was invalided home.
John Richards lived with his bigamous wife for a month before leaving her. He had previously written to her to say he did not wish to claim her as his wife and she was free to marry again.
Ex-Sergeant Henry Harwood left his wife and two children and believing him dead she remarried. Florrie Dormund then became pregnant by Henry and he married her because he was forced to by his commanding officer.
In sentencing Mr Justice Bray commented bigamy was ‘becoming very common indeed because of the war.’