Thursday, August 25, 2005


I ran across this little tidbit in the news that made me giggle. I giggled because I have a sick sense of humor, and because I got to say, “AHA! It happened to somebody else!”

(08-11) 19:20 PDT LONDON, United Kingdom (AP) --

Some people bring flowers. But when Melvyn Reed's three wives showed up to visit him at the hospital, they brought the unexpected end to his years as a bigamist.

British police confirmed Thursday that after Melvyn Reed's marital affairs took a turn for a worse as he recovered from triple bypass surgery — all three of his spouses had turned up at the same time, despite his efforts to stagger their visits.

Media reports say that the wives quickly realized that they were all married to the same man.

The 59-year-old company director from Kettering in central England turned himself in May, telling police he was married to three women at the same time, and confessing to bigamy, illegal in Britain, London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Prosecution Service said Reed was with his attorney when he turned himself in and confessed in Wimbledon, south London.

He pleaded guilty July 19 to two charges of bigamy and was given a four-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay $126 in costs, police said.

It wasn't immediately possible to reach Reed or his three wives. Reed's lawyer, Laurence Grant, also could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Metropolitan Police said Reed married his first wife, Jean Grafton, in 1966, then left her without divorcing her. He went on to marry Denise Harrington in 1998, then married Lyndsey Hutchinson in 2003.

The Metropolitan Police said Harrington and Hutchinson have since sought advice on getting their marriages annulled. But media reports say lawyers have advised the women that their marriages were never valid.

Okay, so yes. Like Melvyn, there is bigamy in the family history. We found out by chance, when asking my grandmother Alice about the names given to the boys in the family. The same two or three names kept getting used over and over again – yet I happen to know my grandfather had about nine brothers – therefore at least nine family names to choose from. So my grandmother starts running through the names and she gets to the name “Blank”. (yeah, yeah, I’ve removed the actual name – fill in your own damn name)

“Blank is a FABULOUS name! Why isn’t anyone else named Blank?”

“Well. . . ” she said, and then used that whispering conspiratorial voice that only people born at the turn of the century can really use with any degree of credibility:

“Blank was a bigamist.”

“What!?!?!” “Oh we must know. Family scandal, how delicious!”

Well, it turns out that Blank got his girlfriend in the family way – scandal enough in those days. The consequences of his libidinous tendencies were that he had to give up a well-paying job, marry the girl and move her to another part of the state so as to avoid the inevitable wagging of tongues over the very premature birth of a child that people were sure to notice had they stayed in town. After that child was born they had two more -though it was not the happiest of marriages.

Along came that War to End All Wars. Blank and the rest of the brothers went off to serve. It being a war, not everyone came home when it was over. Blank was one of them. They never found his body, so the wife had to wait the requisite seven years before she could apply for the insurance money – which she did.

One day, there was a knock at the door of my great grandmother, who opened it to see a woman standing there.

“Hello. My name is Mrs. Blank and we need to have a talk.”

Deary me. Well, it turns out that Blank wasn’t killed in WWI – but simply moved to New York when it was over and didn’t tell anyone. He married again and had three children. Suffice it to say the second wife was rather perturbed to find out about another wife out there – trying to collect the death insurance, no less.

It happens in the best of families.


Blogger Chris said...

Hey, thanks for visiting my site the other day. I think you made one of the most informative, albeit, cognitive comments I've had in a while.

Thanks again.

Your sense of humor is a welcome.

25 August, 2005 11:34  
Blogger JC said...

Ah, the skeleton in the closet. Funny how the older folks in the family can stay disgraced their whole life, when folks now truly would not care! I have had a similar situation.

25 August, 2005 19:36  
Blogger Tracey said...

Oh MY! No wonder nobody named anybody after him.

So what happened next? Inquiring minds want to know! lol

25 August, 2005 21:20  
Blogger R said...

Um..same thing happened in an ex's family. His father sat down to dinner with his five siblings and was told "Tomorrow you meet your brothers Frank and Johnny" (not actual names, natch) They all looked at one another like "WHO?" Turns out my bf granddad took a liking to the British Ambassador to some countries daughter (she was BFF with a certain very famous pilots wife who was also the daughter of an ambassador..figure it out) and just plum forgot about his lovely wife and two boys. Set house right up with the new gal. They tried for decades to get her (wife 1) to divorce him, to no avail. I think the father-in-law had to finally be told, thus confirming his suspicion his daughter married a bum. He cleaned it all up with cash or whatever. I think this was pretty common back in the days when divorce was difficult to obtain and relentless to live down. But still...

25 August, 2005 23:05  
Blogger cube said...

Every closet has a skeleton...why did this phrase make me think of Mick Jagger?

26 August, 2005 04:13  
Anonymous pia said...

So wonderfully told.

Did you see that man? men still rule the world, unfortunately

26 August, 2005 05:21  
Blogger Seamus said...

There's so many skeletons in our family closet they've deemed it a graveyard. ;)

27 August, 2005 08:45  
Blogger Laura said...

Love those Frastley family stories! So you've got a branch of distant cousins out there that you've never met. So does my DH. Not because of bigamny, more like borderline incest. Two sisters married two brothers who happened to be their first cousins. All four of the involved people had the same last name even before the weddings took place. Then they all moved to America from Italy. Then the sisters had a fight and never spoke to each other again. One of the sisters was my DH's grandmother. So he has a whole bunch of 2nd and 3rd cousins with the same last name as him that he has never met. He also has fewer great-great grandparents than the rest of us do....draw a picture, you'll see what I mean.

P.S. In the case of your news story, I think it should be "trigamy" rather than "bigamy".

28 August, 2005 10:31  
Blogger Jet said...

Great post. I'm always up for a bit of fine Frastley fun.

28 August, 2005 17:32  
Anonymous pia said...

Can you send out emails when you update? I'm serious!

And I usually hate them

30 August, 2005 09:38  

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