Bigamy of a Denaby Hairdresser – The Parties in Tears

July 1906

Mexborough and Swinton Times July 28, 1906

The summer Assizes of the West Riding Division of Yorkshire commenced at the Town Hall Leeds on Wednesday. His honour, so William Grantham George presided in the Civil Court.

Bigamy of a Denaby Hairdresser
The Parties in Tears

Harry Whitehead, a hairdresser, of Denaby, pleaded guilty to a charge of having bigamously married Alice Bryars, whilst’s former wife, Isabella Whitehead, whom he married on December 5, 1899, was still alive.

The case was in some respects as painful as it was interesting, for just when prisoner’s should have been the sweetest – whilst on honeymoon – he, by the unfortunate mistake of leaving his business in other people’s hands, appears to have been ruined.

Returning from his honeymoon he found his business practically gone, and been unable to pay his debts he went out into the world, leaving his home at Sowerby Bridge, and ultimately acquired a situation at Denaby. From here, he wrote his wife to join him, but she, contending that he had left her to face the debts, also absolutely refused to do so. He endeavoured to persuade his wife to return to him, and paid occasional visits, in addition to contributing towards the support. She, however, remained adamant in their resolve, and, in consequence, he went through the ceremony of marriage with a widow, 27 years of age, named Alice Bryars, on December 26, 1904.

Mr Yarborough, who prosecuted, characterised prisoner’s actions as a most deliberate deception of the woman, Alice Bryars. The facts, he said, were that prisoner’s first marriage took place on 25 December 1899 of an eye mostly live together at the house of his wife’s parents. There was one child of the marriage. In August 1900, the prisoner left the house at Sowerby Bridge to look for work, and for a year afterwards paid occasional visits, and also contributed towards his wife support.

In 1904 he was carrying on a hairdresser’s business at Denaby, when he met a widow, 27 years of age, and married her on Boxing Day. When arrested he gave as an excuse that his first wife refused to live with him will stop the tool, added Mr Yarborough, appeared to have lived very happily, but the prisoner was well aware his wife was alive, and is going through the ceremony of marriage with the widow, Alice Bryars, was a most deliberate and cruel deception.

For the defence, Mr Charles Mellor urged that bigamy was a crime on wedding degree, and that the present one might well be regarded as a case calling for exceeding leniency. The woman, Alice Bryars, forgave him the deception you practice, and will tell them that since she married yet treated her very well. He would also testify that he had been a hard-working man, and had done everything he could to make her comfortable. She wished to join with him (Mr Mellor) asking his Lordship to be as lenient as he possibly could in dealing with the prisoner.

The case had arisen in the following way: Prisoner was getting together a very nice little business as a hairdresser when he married, but unfortunately, while away on his honeymoon this was absolutely ruined by the man he left in charge, and he got into financial difficulties. It was arranged that he should go away, and try and get a home together somewhere else, and he went to Denaby. When he wrote, however, asking his wife to come and live with him she replied that she wouldn’t while her mother was alive. Subsequently after the mother died, she still absolutely refused to move with him. “I have a letter here,” said Mr Mellor, “which she wrote to the defendant’s father and mother, which she states in the most unmistakable language that she absolutely declines to come near him, as she suggest he left her with a lot of debts to face. She says it came to £100, but as a matter of fact the total was £25, and besides she didn’t have them to face. “It is a prosecution,” he added, “instituted by the first wife to punish a man with whom she absolutely refused to live.”

The Commissioner promptly enquired who instituted the proceedings, reply was given. “The wife’s father.”

Mr Mellor: She lives with him; it is just the same.

The Commission said there was some slight palliation, but absolutely no excuse for the offence it would not be right, other, to associate a man such as the prisoner with thieves. He therefore passed sentence of four months in the second division.

Hearing this, the prisoner burst into sobs and a disturbance in the females gallery seem to indicate that the widow, who although so terribly wrong, only forgive the man, had also been affected by the sentence.