My 3 x great grandfather James Bisdee came to the Swan Colony in Western Australia in 1851 as a convict on the convict ship the Minden with his son, Edgar. They were charged, imprisoned and then transported for sheep and chicken stealing in Somerset 1848. I had found a fair bit of information on Edgar, his marriage, his children, his shenanigans and his death, however there was no other information I had for James after his conditional pardon in 1853. When he was transported, he left his wife and 5 other children behind in England. I knew the date everyone in ancestry had for his death was wrong. They had him dying in Hutton Somerset in 1891.
Part of James' condition for his ticket of leave was he was not allowed to leave Australia. I am not sure if that was just for the remainder of his sentence, or if it was forever. However his wife in England remarried in 1857, since James was still alive ( however been transported) I have done just a touch of reading of divorce and found that:
"If one party to a marriage disappeared for seven years it was, by the eighteenth century, generally assumed that the deserted one could marry again, though if the errant one returned, the first marriage took priority Desertion and bigamy were not infrequent, but prosecutions were rare." and "Bigamy having become a quite frequent crime (2,555 cases were tried between 1805 and 1861), commissioners were appointed in 1850 to inquire into the law of divorce and, in 1857, the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Act put an end to actions for criminal conversation and took away the authority of the church courts in divorce matters, placing them under a court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, presided over by three judges.".
Considering James was incarcerated in 1848, Harriet (also known as Henrietta) would have grounds on desertion.
James would have travelled to Victoria between 1853 and 1855 as a marriage banns record states he was married to a Emily Jane Cruse on the 26th of February 1855. This is where it got tricky. This marriage record states James as 38 years of age ( he would have been 54 years) That he was a widow in 1850 (Harriet/Henrietta was still alive and well in England) and that 2 of his 3 children were alive ( he had left 5 of them in England, and 1 in Western Australia). The marriage record also has his mother and father as James Bisdee and Jane Fry of Worle, which are his parents ( I have found baptism records for James and some of his siblings). I have no doubt this is the same James, I am a little shocked that he was able to shave 17 years of his age!
1858 has more records! There are more marriage records for James ( I have no idea what happened to Emily Jane) he married another widower Phillis Newbould nee Cowper and so far through my search I have found they had 3 children together, James was in his early 60s.
On the 12th March 1881, at his residence, Dandenong Road, Prahran, James Bisdee of Somersetshire England, died after a long and painful illness, believed to be buried in St Kilda cemetery.
My name is Davina and I have been researching my family history since 2011. I started with almost nothing but ended up with a wealth of information and I needed an outlet to show and display all the information I have found.