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  • Writer's pictureKaren

A strange case of bigamy

Following on from my last blog, I decided to do a bit more digging on my uncles Great Grandfather Léon-Gaéton Bournon, the story gets even more complicated with name changes, bigamy and arrests.

Vine Street Police Station

I was looking at the British Newspaper Archives online and found a number of articles written about a Gaeton Bournon and Alice Crockett.  It turns out that Gaeton walked into Vine Street Police station on 31 Dec 1898 to ask for advice as to what he should do about his wife, who had committed bigamy.  He was asked how long it was since he went through the marriage ceremony with the woman and his reply was 7-8 years.  The actual date of the marriage was 22 Sep 1890.  He was then asked if he was aware that this woman was already married and he replied that yes he was but he did not know the man.  The police inspector then told him that in that case he was also as guilty as the woman and would be charged.  He told the officer that he had not come to make a charge on the woman but for advice ‘because of late she had been going on very badly’.  He was then taken, charged and given £50 bail.  No sooner was he released that he took immediate action to have her taken into custody, he informed the police where she was to be found and went with them to their house.

She came clean and said that yes in 1889 she had married a man named James Crockett, a coachman to Lady Wingfield in Shrewsbury.  She spent 3 days in a hotel with him and then left him and went to London where she met Gaeton Bournon who in her words ‘worried her to marry him’.  She showed Gaeton her marriage certificate and tore it up in front of him.  They were married in Lambeth Church in Sept 1890.  This is where it gets a bit complicated.  On the marriage banns and certificate, it states her name as Maude Robinson, I have no idea where this name came from.  They are then seen together on the 1891 Census with Gaeton’s two sons, Rene, and Raymond (born Leon Gustave).  He is listed as a Foreign Correspondent.  7 years later he walks into the police station and accuses her of bigamy.

1891 Census

After they served their respective 1 day in Pentonville and Holloway they seem to stay together, showing up in the 1901 Census under the names of George and Maud Robinson and then in 1911 Census they are using the names Gaston (maybe a mistake of the transcriber) and Maude Bournon.  Sadly I cant find either of the boys in these census, I am not sure where they went – maybe to school or to their mother.

1901 Census

Whatever their story they end up being married for 26 years and Maud (Alice) dies in 1916.  Leon-Gaeton goes on to marry again and have another child, he also calls Leon.  Leon-Gaeton dies in Derby in 1939 aged 76.

There are so many unanswered questions about this couple not least, why did they spend 20 years of their lives living under different names, what were they hiding from?

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