22nd April 1916

Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time

Herbert Stanton, a labourer from Guernsey, committed bigamy when he married Hannah Thomas on 22 April 1916.

The 47-year-old had told her he was single, and even in court he maintained his belief that this was true – under Guernsey law. His first marriage had been to a Guernsey widow in 1890. The marriage had lasted 22 years, until Stanton left when her drinking became too much.

Left one wife, then a second

He moved to Cornwall, leaving behind four children from his first marriage, and met his new wife at church. They married within the year, but 14 months later he’d left her, too. They’d had a child together by that point. Both the baby and Hannah had to resort to charity to support themselves.

Unfortunately for Stanton, he had pleaded guilty when brought to court in 1919. This somewhat negated his claim that he was free to marry under Guernsey law. When the judge, Mr Justice Lawrence, asked him for a copy of the relevant law, he was also unable to produce it.

He was sentenced to three months’ hard labour. In part this was due to the fact that he’d lied to his second wife. As the judge pointed out, if he really had believed he was free to remarry he should have told Hannah Thomas this rather than claiming to be single. At least then she’d have been able to make up her own mind.

Penal servitude

Hard labour was a particularly cruel form of punishment in which convicts were set physically demanding but often entirely pointless tasks. One of the most common was working the penal treadwheel. This was a large wooden wheel with paddles on the outside. Prisoners walked on the wheel for up to six hours a day, in silence, with only short breaks.

Some prisons used the wheels productively to grind corn. Many, though, were not connected to anything other than belts and weights to make the work even harder.


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Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Finishing touches put to new hospital 30th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port