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The Infamous and Bigamous John Blair Wills

When one decides one doesn't want to be married anymore, there's divorce, and there's murder, and then there's the incomprehensible tangled web woven by John Blair Wills. Wills fell in love with a girl at first sight, but her mother wouldn't consent to marriage because Mary Ann Maxwell was only twelve. Five years later, Wills married her, but soon lost his passion for his young wife, who had given birth to a daughter and was hospitalized with milk fever in 1856. When she returned home, John Wills wanted nothing to do with her.     

He coldly told the poor girl that he did not want her, and that she was not actually his wife, as he had been married to a woman called Ann Good since 1851.  This terrible and shaming news would have devastated Mary Ann, not only because she would be judged as someone guilty of fornication, and living in sin, but also because her poor child was illegitimate.  Helpfully John Blair Wills suggested a solution, namely that the best thing she could do was to marry his brother James Fenton—he of the moustaches—who seemed to be quite fond of her.  To prove that there was no reason for them not to marry, John produced his and Ann’s marriage certificate from 1851.  Although some might think that Mary Ann was sullied, she was still a free woman, and, as James was a widower, they could make a bad situation better.

Things only became more complicated after that, as Wills was lying about his other marriage. Circumstances eventually led to three cases of bigamy within the family! Read how all this happened at London Overlooked.  -via Strange Company


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