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March 23, 2020

Traded His Wife & Children to His Brother for a Watch

TRADED OFF HIS WIFE: PECULIAR BIGAMY CASE TRIED AT COBOURG George Albert Reynolds Disposed of His Wife to His Brother Walter For a $15 Watch-- All Three Sentenced and the Deal is Off Source: The Globe (1844-1936); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont]09 Jan 1903: 1. 

This lurid bigamy case caught my eye while I was browsing online newspapers. Imagine trading your wife and children to your older brother. For a watch. For anything!

It seems Mrs. Reynolds was happy with the deal and I wondered if she ever did go back to hubby #1 after all three of them were charged with bigamy.

So I had a hunt for the culprits to find out what happened after the verdict.

Let's start with the marriage of George Albert Reynolds to his wife, Annie Clark. According to the online marriage record on Ancestry it took place in Peterborough on 10 December 1900. George and Annie were both 20. George's parents are recorded as George Reynolds and Mandy Hickerson so it should be easy to verify George's older brother Walter.

It didn't take long to find that Annie was still married to George when she died in 1921 at the age of 35. Her death occurred on 6 January in Northumberland County. Source: Ontario Canada Death Records 1869-1947

My one question was answered and I admit to being surprised that Annie stayed with George after their arrest.

I was curious about the two children who were passed from George to Walter and back. Their son William was born in August 1901 and their daughter Jenny in December 1902. Another bit of a shock! Little Jenny was only 1 year old when the arrest was made. The article states that Walter Reynold came back to Canada from Michigan and married Annie in November 1902. That would mean that Jenny was not yet born and Annie was 8 months pregnant.

Walter was born in 1878 and died 24 October 1923 in Coburg of Typhoid Fever. He is recorded as being unmarried. Source: Ontario Canada Death Records 1869-1947

However a search of marriage records showed Walter marrying Lulu Maud Peling on 20 March 1911 and living with her and their three children in the 1921 census for Brighton. The children were Edith 9 years old, Mary 6 years old, and John 3 months.

This is one of the more bizarre cases I've encountered. What odd things have you found in your genealogy research?


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