Bigamy in the Berry Household

It’s for a long time been known, that most Blantyre women are strong minded and can take matters into their own hands when the situation arises. One such occasion arose in 1909, where a High Blantyre woman called police to her husband, after it was discovered he was living “two lives”, married also at the same time to another woman!

Now, I wouldn’t normally go into details of bigamy, but this case was nearly 113 years ago and the people involved long since passed, as indeed will have their children. The story takes place in High Blantyre at former homes in School Lane in November 1909 and it made some local newspaper headlines, as you would probably expect.

John Baird Berry was the man accused of bigamy. A “family man” living most of the time in School Lane, High Blantyre together with his wife and TEN children. A ruckus took place however on the evening of Saturday 20th November when a woman knocked on their door and admitted to Mrs Berry, that she TOO was also Mrs Berry, a Glasgow woman married to the same man! I can only imagine the horror and shock that Mrs Berry of School Lane must have felt, as she realised her husband, currently working in the pit that evening, was still married to somebody else! Can you imagine the scene when he got in from work!?

Throughout the next day, news quickly got out and a family member encouraged the women to report the matter to police to sort out. Matters had come to a head when the Glasgow Mrs Berry was able to return producing marriage papers showing the marriage HAD taken place with dates overlapping the marriage of Mrs Berry of High Blantyre. The report makes no mention of John Berry trying to resolve things or explain. The man was arrested by the Glasgow Eastern Police on Sunday, and was later brought before the Sheriff at Glasgow on the charge. After a quickj investigation, it was proven, with the man found guilty of bigamy and he was given 3 months imprisonment.

There would have been no winners in this matter. The family I’m sure would have no reason to trust John for a very long time afterwards and there’s no mention of who he ended up living with.


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  1. This is a very interesting article, I need to ask you if you can direct me to your evidence, the reason being that this man also fathered my grandmother and was taken to court for that paternity case too, he sure was a busy wee beaver eh?

  2. There must have been a lot of it going on Paul, people didn’y believe in divorce back then, for religious reasons i hae nae doot…but getting married is a lovely thing to do, I’m not surprised or shocked, it’s just devastating to a monogamous wife or partner. I bet after the initial shock, baith women coulda come to a shared arrangement, or, ane o’ the women wouldn’y hae wanted him back and yin may huv’..then again, he might’ve decided efter a prison sentence tae hae naithin tae dae wi ony o them, hehe!! Sic’ a shame.

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