Thursday, June 2, 2022

James Crabtree or Wilson - A Violent Bigamist

 This is the first time in the blog that I have been able to feature the criminal and the victim in the same photograph. James Crabtree (otherwise known as James Wilson) was a house painter by profession. He married Charlotte Ashton Findlay, a domestic servant, at St. Andrew's Episcopal church on King Street in Aberdeen on 27th June 1895, with the couple subsequently living at 77 Loch Street. The picture above may well have been taken on their wedding day when they surely would both have been looking forward to many years together. However, James had a secret: he was already married.

Under the headline of "Bigamy in Aberdeen" The Aberdeen Journal of the 28th July 1896 provides more details about the case,

"James Crabtree, alias James Wilson, was charged with having, on the 27th June...then being the lawful husband of Julia Hirst or Crabtree, 16 Lapage Street, Bradford, bigamously married Charlotte Ashton Findlay, domestic servant, 77 Loch Street, and cohabited with her as her husband. Accused pleaded guilty. Mr. W.M. Sellar, solicitor, in his behalf stated that Crabtree had left his first wife after living with her for two years, and that, having been unable to pay the aliment, for which decree had been given against him in an action for separation, he had come north where he had met the second woman, whom he had married while on the spree and in a state of intoxication. The Procurator Fiscal stated that the girl Findlay whom the accused [had] married was a respectable domestic servant, and that Crabtree, by false statements, had induced her to leave her employment. He was perfectly sober when married. Both wives gave him a bad character. Accused was sent six months to prison".

I am sure the fact that Crabtree was intoxicated when he proposed to Charlotte Findlay but "perfectly sober" when they married would have been little consolation to her.

A subsequent report in The Aberdeen Journal of the 13th January 1898 sheds more light on quite what a nasty piece of work James Crabtree was, 

"In the London Divorce Division yesterday, before the president, Sir Francis Jeune, a case was heard in which Mrs Julia Crabtree, of Drass Street, Bradford, petitioned for a divorce from her husband, Mr James Crabtree, printer, on the grounds of his cruelty, desertion, misconduct, and bigamous marriage with Charlotte Ashton Finlay, a seamstress, of Aberdeen. The suit was undefended...The petitioner gave evidence that she was married to the respondent on the 5th January 1889 at Bradford. Her husband threatened to shoot her, and had also threatened her with a knife. In 1893 he tried to strangle her, and she summoned him before the magistrate. He was convicted. The next she heard of him was that he had gone through a form of marriage at Aberdeen. Charlotte Ashton Finlay, a seamstress of Aberdeen, said that the respondent made her acquaintance through living in the same flat, and in 1895 he was married to her in the name of James Wilson. They had lived together in Aberdeen. A brother of the petitioner, Albert Hirst, said he had identified the respondent who was undergoing nine months' imprisonment in Northallerton Gaol".  

A dissolution of the marriage was granted.

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