Article provided courtesy of John Robinson, Canada, 25th January 2018

On the 2nd October 1909 at the age of 27, Ellen Kell (widow)  married Henry Mortimer at the Register Office, Sedgefield. Both were residents of Trimdon Colliery. Witnesses to the wedding were Ellen’s brother Arthur Shorthouse and her sister Jennie Richardson.
Ellen’s husband Henry Kell, a quarryman had died in 1908, leaving her with three small children.

We have very little information about Henry Mortimer, From the marriage certificate, we know he was a coal miner, supposedly born in Bradford where his father supposedly worked as an Iron Moulder. In 1914 he joined the army and served in France, he got promoted to Sergeant in the Royal Engineers. In 1916, Ellen found out that Mortimer was a bigamist and his real name was Henry Coghill. Two children, Olive (1912), and Joseph Osborne (1916), were born in this period, and given the name Mortimer.


When a Charlotte Tattersall applied to the army for a separation allowance, as the wife of Henry Mortimer, she found that it was already being paid to another wife, which resulted in the charges of bigamy.
The details of this bigamist relationship is documented from various newspaper reports from that time, and are included below.


Rochdale Observer March 21st. 1917. 


At the Rochdale borough police court on Monday Harry Mortimer (35), a sergeant in the Army, who has two medals, was charged with marrying Charlotte Tattersall of Back Joystreet, Syke, at Greenbank Chapel, Rochdale, on November 4th. 1916,  his former wife being then alive. The magistrates on the bench were the Mayor (Councillor Robert Turner), in the chair, Councillor Schofield, Councillor Dr. Kerr and Mr. J. Asquith.

The Chief Constable said the prisoner, who was arrested on a warrant at Chatham on Saturday, was a patient at the Castleton House auxiliary hospital in August, 1918, and whilst he was there many persons interested themselves in providing amusements for the soldiers. Miss Tattersall was among those who were providing these entertainments, and she met the prisoner and they kept company until November, when he obtained a special licence and went through a form of marriage with her. During their courtship she asked him if he was married and he said he was not. After going through the form of marriage he stayed with Miss Tattersall for a week, and then rejoined his regiment. He then went away for a month and returned to her for another week. As certain information came to her knowledge she wrote to him. In a letter which he sent to her he said he would always respect her, and that he would volunteer for the front and he did not think he would come back. He expressed regret for having gone through a form of marriage with her, admitting that he was a married man.

Evidence having been given by Miss Tattersall, the Chief Constable applied for a remand until Friday, as evidence of prisoner’s previous marriage would have to be produced.

Prisoner was accordingly remanded until Friday.

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