Featured Image: Long Bridge over the River Derwent in the 1930s via Derbyshire Live
Records show that Reuben and Mary eventually remarried in 1963 – 25 years after the bigamy trial. I wondered how that came about. Had they met up again years later and rekindled the romance? Had Mary stuck by Reuben despite the dishonesty? It seemed unlikely I would ever find out.
A Brave Act
Back in 1937, Reuben was reported in the newspapers as having rescued a child that had fallen in the River Derwent. For his efforts, the 16-year-old Reuben received a Royal Humane Society Certificate while a patient at the Royal Infirmary.
DERBY RIVER RESCUES
HONOURS FOR MAN AND YOUTHS
The Royal Humane Society has awarded testimonials on parchment to two Derby youths and a Derby man in recognition of the parts they played in drowning rescues…
George William Gamble (23), of 4, Back Colyear-street, Derby, who rescued Geraldine James (9), of 175, Osmaston-road, Derby from the Derwent, was assisted by Reuben Alfred Lamb (16), also of 175, Osmaston-road.
The child fell into the river while attempting to recover a ball.
(Derby Daily Telegraph, 17 December 1937, p1, c3)
Presentation to Patient in Derby Infirmary
The Mayor of Derby (Ald. E. E. Paulson) on Saturday made presentations of three Royal Humane Society Certificates, two at the police court and the other at the Royal Infirmary.
In the latter case the recipient was Reuben Alfred Lamb (16), of 175, Osmaston-road who is a patient in the institution. He had been instrumental, in conjunction with George W. Gamble (24), of 4, Colyear-street, to whom the award had also been made, in saving the life of a girl who, while playing on the river bank near Siddals-road, over-balanced and fell into the water…
(Nottingham Journal, 21 February 1938, p3, c2)
The article annoyingly failed to mention why Reuben was in the infirmary.
I had resigned myself to probably never knowing the answers to any of my questions, when I remembered asking Rose (Reuben’s sister) about this incident before she died. Luckily I found the conversation…
[after being asked about her brother’s bigamy]
I had forgotten about that. She said she was pregnant, he believed her and said he’d marry her. Then he and his friend Bill Gamble saw a child in the river Derwent and Alfie jumped in and saved it. He got a certificate from the Humane Society for bravery, but got an infection and was seriously ill and likely to die so Dad, who had refused to let him marry, relented. The pregnancy lasted two years!!!! He was called up for the army, the yanks came to Derby and Cathy was in heaven, but Alfie left her and later married Mary. They had four or five children and were very happy. Cathy (Morgan) had a sister – Nellie Cash. She had a baby and hid it in the chimney. It was found by firemen I think. I don’t know what happened to her. How’s that for a tale?
(Rose Richards, 6 August 2016, punctuation edited for clarity)
It was such a joy (and a relief!) to reread this message. Of course Rose may have been biased, but although Cathy’ isn’t painted in a very positive light, this family version of events really helps to clear things up. It even alludes to the ‘associating with other men’ mentioned in the trials. I had previously seen articles about ‘the rescue’, so it was interesting that a seemingly unrelated incident had also played a part in this story.
And so, a rough timeline appears as follows:
1937 – Reuben (16) and Kathleen (18) discuss getting married; his father refuses
1937 – December – Reuben rescues child from river and comes close to death
1938 – February – Reuben receives award in hospital; his father consents to the marriage
1938 – abt June – Reuben marries Kathleen Morgan
1939 – Reuben is living with wife Kathleen and her father in Derby (30 Bradshaw Street)
1945 – Reuben separates from Kathleen (unclear whether this was before or after meeting Mary)
1945 – April – Reuben meets widow Mary Evans Mitchell at Nottingham Castle NAAFI canteen
1946 – Feb 2nd – Reuben marries Mary
1946/7 – Reuben visits Kathleen in Derby (in response to a telegram)
1947 – Jan 21st – Kathleen visits in Mansfield and reveals all
1947 – Jan 29th – Reuben is charged with bigamy
1947 – Feb 18th – Reuben is sentenced to 3 months prison for bigamy
1962 – Kathleen dies
1963 – Reuben and Mary marry
All’s Well That Ends Well
Reuben and Mary’s marriage in early 1963 appears to coincide with Kathleen’s death the previous year (no evidence of divorce has been found and Kathleen’s death was registered under the surname Lamb).
So there was a happy ending after all. Despite not being legally wed, Reuben and Mary remained a couple and built a family together before they were able to ‘make it official’ in 1963.
As for the baby in the chimney..? Now, that‘s another story altogether…