In Britain in 1901, divorce was still
hard to obtain. The most notorious bigamy case of 1901 was
that involving Earl Russell, who was convicted initially at
the Old Bailey (the Central Criminal Court) and subsequently
by the House of Lords in July. Russell had divorced his wife
and married Mollie Cooke in the USA the previous year. British
courts would not accept the validity of his divorce, however,
and he was sentenced to three months' imprisonment in Holloway
gaol. Despite petitions for his release, signed by Joseph
Conrad among others, he served his time.
Another bigamist convicted in 1901 was Frank Dudley, alias
Dudley Monstressor, who was aged 36 and described as a dramatist.
He pleaded guilty at the Leicester Assizes in June 1901 and
was sentenced to 18 months' hard labour.
Dudley had a previous criminal record. He had been convicted
of fraud, theft and other offences in places as varied as
Oldham, Leeds, Scarborough, Salford and Glasgow. In 1893 he
had married a Miss Wright in Camden Town, north London, and
subsequently joined the army. Moving to Leicester in 1897,
he married a Miss Squires the following year, who later gave
evidence that he had treated both her and her mother badly.
Dudley asked the judge for one more chance, claiming that
he had been a martyr to circumstances all his life. The judge,
however, remarked that the prisoner had been guilty of most