Gill, Rebecca (2004) The imperial anxieties of a nineteenth century bigamy case. History workshop journal, 57. pp. 58-78. ISSN 1363-3554

This article explores the potentially subversive nature of a nineteenth-century case of bigamy. It demonstrates how the spectacle of a British man able to marry two wives owing to discrepancies in the United Kingdom’s marriage law de-stabilized the very notion of a ‘British’ rule of law. The subsequent trial secured multiple audiences at a time when the ‘naturalness’ of the monogamous union was under threat from the new knowledge of marriage practices in the empire contained in anthropological, travel and missionary narratives. It then shows how the new ethnography of matrimony helped secure the primacy of the English law of marriage, and its extension to the rest of the domestic empire.

Restricted to Registered users only

Download (385kB)
Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email