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1920 Bigamy at Blantyre

1920 Bigamy at Blantyre

On 11th April 1938, eighteen years after committing bigamy Mrs. Helen Mackenzie, or Gordon of Summerside Place Edinburgh, was at Hamilton Sheriff Court and was sent to prison for one month. The sixty year old wept bitterly in the dock as she reflected on her crime , eighteen years prior to that sentence.

Helen had married David Lennox Gordon in October 1902. David’s work took him to Canada, and shortly after, a daughter was born. The family took up residence in Leith until the outbreak of WW1 where David headed off to fight in the navy.

It was stated that while her husband David Lennox Gordon was at sea in 1919, she disappeared from Leith, and that on 28th February 1920 unknown to family and friends, went through a marriage ceremony with John King, a Blantyre miner from 24 Broompark Road.  Helen at that time had been working as King’s housekeeper.

She explained in court that her “first husband David” had incited acts of cruelty towards her upon his return from the war in 1918 , the “war forever changing him.” By 1919, she could take no more and whilst he was away, she seized her chance to vanish.

However, in December, 1937 she went back to David, her legal husband, who had forgiven her for leaving and they were living happily together at 8 Fernslea Avenue. Unfortunately, the scandal was accidentally disclosed to the people of Blantyre and before long Helen found herself in the glare of the law. Mr King had also forgiven her and shocked, he is said to have known nothing about her previously been married until the time she left him in 1937. Their illegal marriage produced a son, who must surely have wondered if he should be contacting his half sister.

Source: The facts of the above article have been sourced all from local newspaper reports of the time.

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