It is clear that by the time of the 1911 Census, Ada, my great great grandmother, was struggling. Ada is the only adult in the small house in which she lives. Ida, Ada’s two year old granddaughter, and my grand aunt is living with her. Ellen, Ida’s mother, my great grandmother, is in the workhouse infirmary. There is no record of Charles, Ada’s son who was ten years younger than Ellen. Neither of Ellen’s sons, Stanley who would have been aged three, my grand uncle, nor Sidney, my grandfather who would have been five, seem to appear anywhere in the 1911 Census returns.
Ada, who would have been forty-two years of age, has earned money in whatever way has been possible. In one place, she is recorded as a charwoman, in the 1911 Census she is recorded as a “massager.” A code number against the occupation suggests that this was some early form of physiotherapist.
Ada is struggling not because she is a widow, but because Hugh, her forty-four year old husband, who had his hearing damaged during military service, is living at 31 Edward Street, Aldershot and is working as a general labourer for the War Department. There is no acknowledgement of having a family on his census return. Twelve year old Charles is not living with him.
Ada’s life did not become easier. Ellen died the following year and Ada seems to have become responsible for two of her three grandchildren.
Ada died in 1932, and Hugh married Rose, who seemed to be his second wife later that year.
Except Rose was not his second wife. The hints on the Ancestry website had kept on suggesting Hugh had been married to a woman called Sarah Jane, and I had kept ignoring them, until, checking the electoral registers for the 1920s, I discovered that he shared a house with a Sarah Jane.
Further investigation showed that he had indeed married Sarah Jane in 1923. Had he been away from Ada for so long that he felt free to remarry, for there is no record of any divorce. Even if it had been contemplated, it would have been beyond the pocket of a working man.
When Hugh married in 1932, it was not for the second time, it was for the third time, and he gets married late in that year not because Ada has died but because Sarah Jane has died.
Having left my great great grandmother to a life of hardship, it seems that my great great grandfather became a bigamist, the second one I have discovered in the family tree.