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    Default Bigamist Arthur Walter LEWIS

    Hi,

    My maternal great grandfather x2, was apparently a bigamist and spent 2 years as a guest of HRH. I'm desperate to find more information on him as a personal mission for my grandmother, now 87.

    Until recently we only knew his surname (Lewis), but after finding his daughter's wedding certificate (my great grandmother Ivy Matilda Lewis, b. 26 Aug 1895), we discovered his name was 'Arthur Walter' Lewis and he was an engineer.

    We think he was born abt 1866 in greater London?

    Arthur's wife Ellen Heath was a bit of a battle axe by all accounts and never spoke about Lewis. Apparently she destroyed all evidence of him despite keeping her married name until her death. She was admitted to Amersham General Hospital, Bucks, in 1952; she stayed for a year, went back home and subsequently died of bronchitus in 1953 aged 89.

    Before Ellen died intestate, the Sister of the ward tried to persuade her to make a will - Ellen refused on the account that she had to work hard all her life and that her grand daughters Margaret, aged 28 and Sylvia, aged 23 (Ellen's only heirs [her daughter Ivy had died 10 years previously and Arthur Walter Lewis had disappeared]) would have to do the same.

    It took 3 years for my grandmother (Margaret) to finally settle Ellens affairs. In c.1956 Margaret's solicitors tried to find Arthur and placed the following ad, asking him to come forward:

    LEWIS. Will Arthur Walter Lewis (possibly the husband of Ellen Lewis, formerly Heath), last heard of in the Stratford, London area in or about the year 1895, or any person who can give information as to his whereabouts, communicate with Agar-Hutton and Co. solicitors, 19 Cavendish Square, London, W1

    (England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976 Record for Arthur Walter Lewis).

    I don't know who or how many other wives Arthur had while married (supposedly) to Ellen HEATH. I can't find a marriage record.

    If anyone could point me in the right direction, I'd be truly grateful!

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    I think that if you are looking for details of his crime then I would look in newspaper archives, such as http://www
    .britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ or alternatively if you can local newspapers they may have details.

    I had a quick look at the Civil Registration Index and between 1864-1868 in England there is only 1 birth of an Arthur W Lewis and that is Clifton, Gloucestershire 1866 Jul 6A 97.

    If you look in the 1871 census there are a couple of children that would fit this bill in Clifton.

    I also tried to find when Arthur and Ellen were married, and there is no record. I searched on:
    Arthur Walter Lewis to Ellen Heath between 1880-1896 and Ellen Heath to Mr Lewis in same time period.

    Did Ellen have another name? Could Ellen have been the bigamous wife? The solicitor's ad uses the word "possibly".
    Last edited by Jan1954; 08-04-2012 at 4:20 PM. Reason: Url edited - commercial website

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    Quote Originally Posted by Megan Roberts View Post
    Did Ellen have another name? Could Ellen have been the bigamous wife? The solicitor's ad uses the word "possibly".
    Thanks Megan, not that we know of. It's possible Ellen was the bigamous wife, but then I can't understand why she would keep his name? Was this typical of the time?

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    Thus far, there's not a lot for us to get our teeth into. You make it sound as if the only evidence you have of the existence of an Arthur Walter LEWIS is as the father's name on a marriage certificate. Experience tells us that this is not conclusive evidence.

    What about the birth certificate of Ivy Matilda LEWIS. What does it say?

    Have you got Ellen HEATH's marriage certificate?

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    Living in West Ham, Essex in 1901 were

    Ellen Lewis, b abt 1866 Shadwell, Head MARRIED
    Ivy Lewis, b abt 1896 Stratford, Daughter
    Richard Heath, b abt 1873 Stratford, Brother
    Edith Heath, b abt 1871 Plymouth, Wife
    Edith Heath, 8 months old, Stratford, Daughter
    RG13/1562, Folio 128, Page 43
    (records held by TNA, Crown copyright)

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    In 1911 they are at Essex - West Ham - Stratford - ED4 - schedule 26
    The National Archives; RG 14/9345/26

    Ellen now describes herself as widowed. But then if she had described herself as married, she would have had to complete the 'fertility' boxes.

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    Now this might be a complete wild goose chase and I do not have all the references, I've just been scribbling notes, decided against it but then thought maybe it is worth throwing in the pot ....

    There is an Arthur Lewis in the 1911 born 1856 in London Soho. His wife is Clara Jane born 1855 in Islington. They have been married for 32 years. With them are daughters Alma 1893 and Ivy 1898.
    Arthur and Clara Jane baptised a Arthur Walter Lewis on 5 June 1904 at Barnsbury St Clement. Arthur was a Portmanteau Maker, (might fit in with Ellen's Drapery business!) Address was 1 Richmond Road. (London, England, Births and Baptisms)
    I think this Arthur Walter Lewis died in 1971 in Hatfield Herts.
    They also baptised an Alice Lillian in 1903, (maybe Alma because I cannot find her baptism yet.)

    Could this be your Arthur's other family? There is no reason why he could not have named two daughters Ivy.
    Don't know how you would prove it though.

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    Another one for the questioner. How is Ellen described on her death certificate? It may describe her as "widow of...". Although come to think of it, we can't draw any conclusions from that because the family lore would have been established long before that. It's Ivy Lewis's birth certificate that will be most interesting.

    The lack of a marriage record (let alone more than one) obviously casts doubts on the bigamy legend. I'm keeping an open mind but I'll be surprised if this isn't a straightforward case of an unmarried woman who was abandoned by the father of her child.

    I seem to recall a similar case that was discussed here not too long ago where again bigamy was the family legend to explain the absence of a husband.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Goodey View Post
    Another one for the questioner. How is Ellen described on her death certificate? It may describe her as "widow of...". Although come to think of it, we can't draw any conclusions from that because the family lore would have been established long before that. It's Ivy Lewis's birth certificate that will be most interesting.

    The lack of a marriage record (let alone more than one) obviously casts doubts on the bigamy legend. I'm keeping an open mind but I'll be surprised if this isn't a straightforward case of an unmarried woman who was abandoned by the father of her child.

    I seem to recall a similar case that was discussed here not too long ago where again bigamy was the family legend to explain the absence of a husband.
    Hi Peter,

    Ellen's death certificate transcribes as:

    Yr 1955; Qtr J; District Amersham; Vol 06a; Page 248.

    No. 385
    When & where died: General Hospital, Amersham
    Name and surname: Ellen Lewis
    Sex: Female
    Age: 89 years
    Occupation: of The Drapery Store, White Lion Road, Amersham. Widow of – Lewis. Occupation unknown.
    Cause of death: 1. (a) Heart failure; (b) Hypertension. R.heart failure; (c) Asthmatic Bronchitis. 2. Pulmonary Infarction. Certified by J.R.Robinson,M.B.
    Signature, description and residence of informant: Margaret V.Hartley, Grand Daughter. 36 Windmill Road, Hemel Hempstead.
    When registered: 17 May 1955
    Signature of registrar: W.E.Stokes


    It's interesting that in the 1901 she records herself as married and in 1911 a widow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mutley View Post
    Living in West Ham, Essex in 1901 were

    Ellen Lewis, b abt 1866 Shadwell, Head MARRIED
    Ivy Lewis, b abt 1896 Stratford, Daughter
    Richard Heath, b abt 1873 Stratford, Brother
    Edith Heath, b abt 1871 Plymouth, Wife
    Edith Heath, 8 months old, Stratford, Daughter
    RG13/1562, Folio 128, Page 43
    (records held by TNA, Crown copyright)
    That's definitely them. Thanks Mutley!

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