Who was my grandfather's first wife?

6

My grandfather married my grandmother in Berwick upon Tweed, England on 31st May 1918 at St Andrew's Church, now demolished. He was described on the marriage certificate as a widower and I can find no trace of his first marriage and wife.

His name was James Gallagher b 20 March 1887 @ 14, Kilnhill Berwick upon Tweed. By 1901 census his entire family had moved to Glasgow. My grandparents lived in Glasgow for their entire married life, even although my grandmother Elizabeth Paxton was also from Berwick.

So he went back to Berwick to marry Elizabeth but where did he marry wife #1?

There was some family rumours that James had gone to Canada at some point - was that where he married? - but there is no evidence to support this fact. (I do have a photograph of James & Elizabeth which is depicted within the silhouette of a maple lea, but I know for an absolute fact that Elizabeth never went to Canada!

The photograph is a copy so there is nothing to be gained by removing it from the frame to look at the back) He wasn't conscripted in 1914 as he was in a reserved occupation, so there are no military records to check. There are many, many, many marriage records of a James Gallagher in Glasgow. The only thing I have to narrow it down a bit is the name of both his parents which are shown on Scottish marriage certificates - Frederick Gallagher & Mary, MS Smith!

The most likely part of Glasgow for a marriage is Camlachie, Calton or perhaps Dalmarnock, but in reality it could be anywhere!

I would love to know if they had children. I surmise that perhaps wife and child died in childbirth but this is only an educated guess with absolutely nothing to support it.

macpark

Posted 2020-09-04T11:18:57.210

Reputation: 61

1Welcome to G&FH:SE. Do you have the 1911 census record for James? Does that show whether he was already married? – sempaiscuba – 2020-09-04T11:29:12.437

I do and he was described as single, not widowed, so his 1st marriage must have taken place after the 1911 census, but before the marriage to my grandmother in 1918. – macpark – 2020-09-04T11:33:35.360

1Did his address change much between 1911 and 1918? – sempaiscuba – 2020-09-04T11:36:13.490

I'm afraid I have no idea. – macpark – 2020-09-04T11:37:13.273

I was only 7 when he died, and there is no-one left to ask! – macpark – 2020-09-04T11:37:38.693

1Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! Your question could be improved by editing and adding some white space -- a solid block of text is very hard to read. It is easier to work this kind of problem if you make a clean list of what sources you've already examined and a timeline of events in an outline form -- it is easier to spot gaps and possible new sources that way. – Jan Murphy – 2020-09-04T18:03:51.377

1If you don't want to pay Scotlands People for about 40 certificates why not go down the list, and then search the death registers for the wife's death (use also other surname=Gallagher) and if it's before 1918 then it's worth paying to see that marriage certificate. I reckon you can either find it or eliminate the possibility of a Scots marriage with a day's work and very modest expense. – erstwhile editor – 2020-09-05T11:19:36.397

I should add that in searching the possible wife's death you'll need to restrict dates to 1900-1918 to avoid the "too many names" message. – erstwhile editor – 2020-09-05T11:26:05.613

I have gone "down the list" but there are way more than 40! And that is only in Glasgow! As I have detailed above, this marriage could have taken place in Glasgow, in Scotland, in Berwick or even in Canada! As soon as they are open again, I will go to a Scotland's People Hub in Edinburgh or Hawick and spend the day going through what I can, one by one. Assuming it's in Scotland of course. I'm afraid I don't understand your comment re too many names message. – macpark – 2020-09-05T21:58:30.477

I don't see the point in making the year range so broad. If he was single in 1911, why search marriages as far back as 1900? He would only have been 13 in 1900. – macpark – 2020-09-05T22:03:02.780

Let me try to answer your two comments. (i) If you search deaths of say Isabella Smith, other surname McTavish in the Sc P death index you will almost certainly get a message "Too many names" but if you restrict the dates enough then you'll get an answer. (ii) You can make the range narrower if you like, good idea - I just said what I found had worked when I tried it quickly. Good luck with the search. – erstwhile editor – 2020-09-07T11:53:35.557

I have just seen this helpful answer as i have been on holiday. My problem is that I dont have the name of the wife - first or second name. – macpark – 2020-09-12T21:29:42.200

Answers

2

I agree with the comment by @erstwhileeditor:

If you don't want to pay Scotlands People for about 40 certificates why not go down the list, and then search the death registers for the wife's death (use also other surname=Gallagher) and if it's before 1918 then it's worth paying to see that marriage certificate. I reckon you can either find it or eliminate the possibility of a Scots marriage with a day's work and very modest expense.

I searched Scotland's People for marriages with a James Gallagher as the groom from 1905-1918 and found 48 records.

If you take the wife's name for each marriage, both maiden and married, and look for any that died after that marriage and before James Gallagher's second marriage, then I suspect you could narrow your choices to just a few marriages.

PolyGeo

Posted 2020-09-04T11:18:57.210

Reputation: 10 741

I can just add: it's not Mary Hutchison, her groom's parents are James Gallagher and Mary Stewart. – erstwhile editor – 2020-09-06T14:48:04.150