THE crime of bigamy is a serious offence against the law; and contrary to the order of society among Christians. It is the offence of marrying again, in the lifetime of the first, who is in fact the only wife, because the law admits not of two; and by an act of Parliament, passed since the conviction of this man, is punished with transportation.
This was not the first time of his being arraigned for bigamy, for we find him indicted at the Old Bailey, and tried at the January sessions preceding his conviction at Bury. He was there arraigned for feloniously marrying Mary Symmonds, on the 25th of September, then last past, he being before married to Ann Chapman, who was then living.
The evidence adduced on the part of the prosecution was perfectly satisfactory; but Mr. Garrow, counsel for the prisoner, took two exceptions upon a point of law, to the evidence of the two marriages, both upon the same grounds, namely,—"That in both marriages, being by licence, the female being under age, and no consent of either parents or guardians, they were informal, and of course void, by the statute of the 26th Geo. II." The court ruled, that in regard to the objection to the prior marriage, it would not hold, inasmuch as the proof of the want of consent either of the parent or guardian, lay upon the defendant. With respect to the latter marriage, it was admitted, because the father of Mary Symmonds, had he been consulted, would have totally disapproved of it. The court was therefore under the necessity of acquitting the prisoner; but ordered him to be transmitted into Yorkshire, to stand his trial for the prior marriage, he being before that married to a former wife.
Thus we find a strong suspicion of his having three wives; but before he was carried into Yorkshire, we find him at the bar of justice at Bury, and found guilty of marrying Mrs. Hardcastle, of Ipswich, and Miss Lambeth, near Richmond, in Yorkshire. He was sentenced to be burnt in the hand with a red hot iron, which was done before he left the court, and to be imprisoned twelve months, in the gaol of Ipswich, during which time his head was to be shaved, to wear the habit ordered for criminals, and on his feet wooden clogs. He was farther ordered to be kept, during the time, in close confinement, except two hours each day, when he was allowed to breathe the fresh air.