Charles Hambleton Crymes - a not-so-perfect man of the cloth

I have been researching Charles Hambleton CRYMES for several years, trying to find an innocent explanation for contradictory facts which emerge during his later life. I have not succeeded. It's time to see what you think. Although this story spans most of his life, it's best told in the order in which I uncovered the facts, rather than chronologically. All of the records cited in this story are in the public domain.

The story begins about 70 years ago, when Charles Hambleton CRYMES was 80 years old. Two records from the UK Index of Grants of Probate and Administration mention his name. They are shown here adjacent, to enable comparison, although they originate from different sections of the index:

Charles Hambleton CRYMES is a unique name, so we can be sure that these two records refer to the same person. Although it is unusual to see two records like this which are dated just three years apart, it is possible to guess what might have happened:

  • Charles Hambleton's first wife Jennie died in 1950.
  • Shortly thereafter Charles Hambleton re-married, to Mary Louise.
  • Mary Louise also died, in 1953.

HOWEVER, when I first saw the 1953 record I was surprised, because I could not remember seeing any record of a second marriage of Charles Hambleton CRYMES. I have tried again and again to find the missing marriage record, without success. As this story progresses you will find yourself frequently referring back to these two probate records, just to check that you haven't mis-read them.

My next step was to look for Charles Hambleton on The 1939 Register. I quickly found him, recorded as living at Fulham, London, and what I found on that record explained why I had been unable to find a marriage record for him between 1950 and 1953.

The 1939 Register is an extremely useful resource but it does have some irritiating aspects, one of which is the lack of a column for 'relationship'. So, although we can see that Charles Hambleton and Mary Louise were living at the same address, with the same surname, and that they were both married, we cannot be certain that they were married to each other.
Nevertheless we can only conclude that in 1939 Charles Hambleton and Mary Louise were living together as man and wife. Just in case, I have checked my research to see whether there was another Mary Louise Crymes, but there was not. I now widened my search for Charles Hambleton's second marriage, looking between 1895 and 1939, but still no marriage was to be found. We should not be surprised by this, as it would require Charles Hambleton to obtain a divorce from Jennie, yet the 1950 Index of Grants of Probate and Administration record clearly states that Jennie was still the wife of Rev. Charles Hambleton Crymes at her death. So a second marriage of Charles Hambleton before 1950, had there been one, would have been bigamous.

To confirm the marital status of Jennie, we can find her also on The 1939 Register, where she was described as "Married" and continued to use her married surname - not "Divorced" and not re-married. The same record includes Jennie's daughter Nellie Doris, who was indeed divorced, which is useful in telling us that The 1939 Register does not shy from using this description.

Summary so far

The above records form the basis of supposition that Charles Hambleton CRYMES separated from his first wife Jennie, later forming a relationship with another woman which they declared to be man-and-wife, though he was still married to Jennie. This deceipt continued for the remainder of Charles Hambleton's life.

As we will see, Charles Hambleton was an ordained minister of the Church of England, which makes the above supposition difficult to believe. It has added to my reluctance to publish this story, but I have not been able to find any innocent alternative interpretation of the facts.


Charles Hambleton's background

Charles Hambleton CRIMES was born in 1870 at Halton, Cheshire, England, the son of Thomas Hankinson CRIMES, a builder and later insurance manager, by his second marriage to Lydia HAMBLETON. Thomas Hankinson had had five children by his first marriage, of whom three died in infancy, leaving two daughters, so we can surmise that Thomas Hankinson would be keen to nurture his only surviving son Charles Hambleton. Charles Hambleton attended Oxford University, where he attained a M.A. degree at St. Edmund Hall. This was a major achievement for a builder's son from Halton, demonstrating both the financial investment in Charles Hambleton by his father, and Charles Hambleton's academic capabilities.

Jennie's background

Records refer to Jennie using various combinations of the forenames Jennie, Woodhouse, Inloes, Inglois, Ingrahm and Ingratia. Her surname up until marriage was variously INGRAM, INGRAHM and INGRAHAM, thereafter it was Crymes. Jennie was the daughter of Francis "Frank" Harris INGRAHAM, a Wool Merchant born in "America". The 1881 England Census gives Jennie's name as "Jennie A Ingraham", age 8, and gives place of birth as Leeds, Yorkshire but I cannot find any record of her birth. The 1891 England Census gives Jennie's name as "Jennie Ingram", age 18. The 1939 Register gives her date of birth as 17 January 1874 though this source is known to be unreliable as to year of birth. This adds up to a confusing start to the investigation of Jennie's background, but confusion will be repeated throughout this story. We can see however that the wealth which Jennie displayed in later life came by inheritance from her father.

Two marriages in one year

On 11 January 1894 Charles Hambleton CRYMES married Jennie INGRAHM at Leeds, Yorkshire, by license. One of the witnesses was Jennie's sister Nellie Beatrice INGRAHM who also appears in the 1881 an 1891 England Censuses, this at least providing rare clarity in the overall story.

On 20 June 1894, just five months after the first marriage, Charles Hambleton CRYMES married Jennie Woodhouse Inloes INGRAHAM again at Knightsbridge, London, by license. One of the witnesses was Jennie's father F H INGRAHM. At this second marriage the condition of bride and groom was given as spinster and bachelor, which suggests either that the first marriage was somehow invalid, or else the couple made a false declaration.
Why did Charles Hambleton and Jennie marry twice in the same year? Although not central to this story, we have here the first of many puzzles surrounding Charles Hambleton CRYMES.
At this stage in my research I cynically thought that Charles Hambleton's two marriages would be beneficial to his reputation - it's just a shame they were to the same person! Little did I know ....

A seemingly normal family

Charles Hambleton was named CRIMES at birth, but he changed his surname to CRYMES on attending Oxford university. His motives are less likely to be the resurrection of an extinct UK surname and more likely to be self aggrandisement.

  • On 21 December 1894 Charles Hambleton was ordained into the Church of England by the Bishop of Exeter.
  • In January 1895 a child, Eleanor Ruth, was born to Jennie and Charles Hambleton at Exeter. This child sadly died at the age of 8 years.
  • In December of 1895 a second child, Nellie Doris was born at Leeds.
    (Nellie Doris married, had children, divorced and died at the age of 78 years.)
  • In February of 1897 Nellie Doris was baptised in Devon, the officiating minister being Charles Hambleton himself. More of Nellie Doris later in this story.
  • A 1900 directory lists Charles Hambleton as:
    "Crymes Charles Hambleton, M.A. St. Edmd. Hall, Oxon, curate, St. Mary Magdalene, Woodchester st. Paddington W" telling us that Charles Hambleton was by that time a curate in a small London church.
  • A 1903 newspaper report includes:
    "Much regret is felt by the congregation of St. Mary's [Chiswick] at the resignation of Mr. Crymes, who was a general favourite; he will be greatly missed, especially by the men in the congregation, with whom he had great influence. We understand Mr. Crymes has resigned on account of ill health."

These records describe an unusually mobile but otherwise ordinary family, together with the beginnings of a career in the Church, but all was not what it seems.

Separation

The first records to suggest a problem are from the 1901 and 1911 England Censuses, where we find that Charles Hambleton and Jennie were living at different addresses. The eldest daughter Eleanor Ruth was with Charles Hambleton and the youngest daughter Nellie Doris was with Jennie. The 1901 England Census gives Charles Hambleton's occupation as "Clergyman - Church of England" but in the 1911 England Census he is described as "Clergyman - Literary Work". This latter description of his occupation provides a clear link to a later revelation. Jennie's father had died before 1901 and she is described consistently thereafter as of "Private Means". So, from the records we can see that Charles Hambleton and Jennie separated sometime between 1897 and 1901. Interesting though that conclusion is, it gives no hint that, in fact, these were turbulent years for Charles Hambleton CRYMES.


In court

Although I could not find any record of a marriage between Charles Hambleton and Mary Louise, I nevertheless thought that it would be useful to check for divorce proceedings between Charles Hambleton and Jennie. A good source for such information is the newspaper archives. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, divorces were rare, and newspapers siezed upon any cases of interest. They were able to publish full accounts of divorce court proceedings, and petitioners were aware that their "dirty washing" was bound to be made public.
To my surprise, a search of the newspaper archives immediately brought up numerous articles mentioning Charles Hambleton CRYMES in the context of divorce. However, upon closer inspection it became clear that the divorce being reported was not his own. Rather, Charles Hambleton CRYMES was named as a co-respondent in the divorce trial of Mr. and Mrs. KEMP-WELCH. The prospect of a minister of the Church of England being named as co-respondent in a divorce trial sent the newspapers into overdrive, and there are more than 100 articles in at least 20 newspapers covering the divorce proceedings and subsequent court actions, over a period of 4 years.
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The first divorce trial - 1909
As well as cross-petitions for divorce from Mr. and Mrs. KEMP-WELCH, the trial included a suit from Mr. KEMP-WELCH against Charles Hambleton CRYMES for damages. All three parties denied the charges against them.
Charles Hambleton was represented by his own barrister so, whatever the outcome of the trial, the cost of this representation would be considerable.
With the enormous amount of newspaper coverage it is difficult to pick out the salient points so, whilst I do not claim to give a balanced coverage, click here for some extracts from the 1909 trial, intended to convey the manner in which Charles Hambleton responded to the numerous accusations made against him - basically he denied everything.
During this trial, the judge found it necessary to remind Charles Hambleton of the consequences of perjury, so blunt was his contradiction of the evidence of many witnesses. This intervention by the judge might be seen as an unfair influence on the jury, but it did not in fact have that effect.
The trial lasted for 5 days, at the end of which the jury failed to agree on the charges of misconduct between Mrs. KEMP-WELCH and Charles Hambleton CRYMES.
The divorce was not granted and the damages were not awarded.
However, Mr. KEMP-WELCH was not going to give up his claims, so ...

The second divorce trial - 1911
This trial was significantly different from the first, in that Mrs. KEMP-WELCH did not contest the charge against her.
A letter, written by Mrs. KEMP-WELCH to her husband, was read to the court, in which she wrote that: she was miserable and truly sorry for her past wickedness. She asked for her husband's forgiveness, adding: I have lied and said I have not been unfaithful but you will forgive. I am broken-hearted and long to be in your care again...
However, Charles Hambleton continued to deny all impropriety, even in the face of evidence from sworn witnesses.
This second trial lasted 4 days. The jury found that Mrs. KEMP-WELCH and Charles Hambleton CRYMES were guilty of misconduct. Mr. KEMP-WELCH was granted his divorce. An award of £1000 in damages was made against Charles Hambleton CRYMES and he also had to pay the costs of both trials!

It should not surprise us that Charles Hambleton CRYMES, a curate, found it difficult to pay the damages and costs, so ...

Attempt to annul the divorce
In January 1912 Charles Hambleton attempted to get the KEMP-WELCH divorce annulled, not we suspect for the good of the KEMP-WELCHs but rather to evade the £1,000 damages with which he was faced. Here is a transcript of the newpaper report:

THE KEMP-WELCH DIVORCE CASE
A REMARKABLE APPLICATION

An application of a somewhat unusual nature was made yesterday [15 January 1912] in the Divorce Court, to the President, Sir Samuel Evans, in the case of Kemp-Welch v. Kemp-Welch and Crymes.
In November 1909 the petitioner, Mr. John Stanhouse Kemp-Welch, an electrical engineer, sought for a divorce on the grounds of his wife's adultery with the Rev. Charles Hambleton Crymes, formerly a curate at Barnes, where the parties resided. The jury disagreed. In February last there was a fresh trial, and the jury then found the respondent and co-respondent guilty of misconduct, and awarded the petitioner £1,000 damages against the co-respondent. The present application, on behalf of the co-respondent, was that the verdict and judgement should be annulled.
Sir Edward Clarke, for the applicant, submitted that the correspondence in the case showed that the wife never intended to admit misconduct with Mr. Crymes, and that any confession she made was on the understanding that she would be restored to her children. On the 6th December the decree was made absolute. Then it was ascertained that on or about the 22nd December, 1911, the respondent left her mother's house, where she had been staying since the alleged confession, and had sailed for Canada, accompanied by her four children. The petitioner had previously gone there. On the 31st October the petitioner applied by summons and obtained an order for the payment of damages to himself, and during the hearing of the summons it was stated that the respondent had joined the petitioner in Canada.
Mr. Barnard, K.C., on behalf of the husband, submitted that there had been no fraud on the Court. There was other evidence before the Court besides the wife's confession as to adultery. There was no concealment from the Court of what had taken place, and all the correspondence was put before the Court at the trial. There was nothing to show that Mrs. Kemp-Welch was living with her husband in Canada. All they knew was that she had left this country with the children to go out to Canada.
The President said that there was no foundation for the suggestion that there had been any fraud on the part of anybody in connection with this matter. He, therefore, dismissed the motion, with costs.

So did Mr. and Mrs. KEMP-WELCH re-unite in Canada? Was their reunion pre-planned? Curiouser and curiouser! I do not think that fraud played any part in the KEMP-WELCH case. Mr. KEMP-WELCH would be aware that Charles Hambleton CRYMES did not have access to £1,000. His motives were surely to cause financial and reputational damage to Charles Hambleton CRYMES, rather than to raise £1,000. Anyway, Charles Hambleton failed to evade the £1,000 damages, and now he had to bear the additional costs of this third court hearing!

Bankruptcy looms
Just 5 days after the failed attempt to annul the divorce, Charles Hambleton was in the bankruptcy court, facing a summons for payment of the £1,000 damages. Here is a transcript of the newpaper report:

DIVORCE CASE ECHO
The Rev. C.H. Crymes' £1,000 Damages
The Rev. Charles Hambleton Crymes, who was the co-respondent in the recent Kemp-Welch divorce case, appeared today [20 January 1912] before Mr. Justice Phillimore, sitting to hear judgement summons in bankruptcy. He appeared in answer to a judgement summons in respect of the £1,000 damages awarded against him.
Mr. Justice Phillimore said that he had read in the newspapers what had happened about the case. This summons was [had been] adjourned because there was a suggestion that there was going to be a new trial which would upset the whole liability. Now he was afraid he must deal with it on the footing that Mr. Crymes must pay this money.
Mr. Crymes, who appeared in the witness-box, replied, "I suppose so, but I cannot pay."
Counsel for the petitioner (Mr. C.P. Blackwell) said that £1,000 was only the damages. The costs had not yet been taxed [determined]. On the last occasion Sir Edward Clarke stated that the debtor was in receipt of an income from settled funds of over £200 a year, and his Lordship made an order for £25 to be paid by January 15th without prejudice to the proceedings. That had not been paid.
INCOME FROM WIFE
Mr. Crymes, cross-examined by Mr. Blackwell, said he had to make his old mother, aged 76, an allowance of £75 a year out of that income in consideration of a house which she gave him in 1904, and which was sold for £750;. Out of that he had to pay off a £300 mortgage and expenses which he had incured in going to Oxford. All the money went within a year. He was separated from his wife, and under the separation deed received this income of £200 a year, which really came out of his wife's father's property.
It was not true that he was earning £150 to £200 a year by journalistic work. Sir Edward Clarke, his counsel, had indignantly denied that he had ever made such a statement in court. He had been qualifying for literary work, but had not yet earned a penny by it. He had one bedroom at Shepherd's Bush with friends, for which he paid 7s. a week, and he went to his mother's place at Hammersmith for meals, for which he paid.
A POOR LOOK OUT
The debtor, continuing, said all he had in the bank was £14, and that had to last him till April next, when he received his next dividends. Fifteen years ago he received £1,000 from trustees at the time of the separation deed, but he had spent it all on his family. He was 41 years of age.
His Lordship: In the face of his only having £14, and his getting no more till April, I cannot make any order. Debtor has had to borrow money for his defence and to pay premiums, and it must stand over generally.
Mr. Blackwell asked for a receiving order under Section 133 of the Bankruptcy Act.
His Lordship: I must be satisfied that the bankruptcy will not interfere with the mother's income. The case had incurred some £1,300 in costs already.
Ultimately his Lordship declined to make an order, and directed the case to stand over generally. He advised the debtor to inform the judgement creditor when he made any income from journalistic work, and make a clean breast of it. The debtor would have to undertake to give notice to the solicitors when his mother died, and he had additional income.
The debtor promised to do so, and the case stood over accordingly.

So, after 2 divorce trials and a legal challenge accusing fraud, having accumulated £1,300 in legal costs and having paid not a penny of the £1,000 damages, Charles Hambleton was let off! I find this judgement amazing. There does not seem to have been proper consideration of the income of £200 a year from his wife (actually the income from investment of £7,000, paid annually, under the terms of his separation deed). There was also no mention of Charles Hambleton's income as a curate - admittedly small, but surely worth considering. Whatever sum he might have in the bank at the moment, his income could enable him to make annual payments towards the damages and costs. I think that Mr. Justice Phillimore was extremely lenient. To have based his court judgement on what he had "read in the newspapers" is bizarre. I suspect that Charles Hambleton was himself surprised by the judgement, or he would not have thought it necessary to challenge the divorce order.
So, when Charles Hambleton's mother died in 1918, did he go back to the court and say "I've got more disposable income now, so I can start to pay my dues"? - we don't know, but we can guess.
Note the use of the term "literary work" - it will appear later in this story.

As an indication of the widespread interest in the KEMP-WELCH case, a letter to the Hull Daily Mail in September 1912, in support of Spiritualism and against the "evils" of the Established Church, includes: "The certain clergyman may be right in all he says, but he may employ himself on the explanation of the case of the curate named Crymes, who by his too seductive ways, broke up a happy family..."


Charles Hambleton's later career

How is it that an adulterer, found by a jury to have lied under oath in a court of law, could continue a career in the Church of England? Apart from a limitation of his status - he appears not to have been promoted beyond curate - there seems to have been little impact on his career within the church.

There are several newspaper references to his continuing work as a minister. For instance the cutting (above left), from 1934, shows him officiating at a marriage. In 1940 (above right) he acted as officiant at the funeral of his vicar's wife. Only a respected and trusted clergyman would be given such a task. Up until his own death, he still held the title "Reverend".


Jennie's later life and death

The bungalow at 185 Torquay Road, Paignton (extant) where Jennie is recorded as living in 1939, was probably commissioned by her. She later lived in Eastbourne before returning to Paignton which is where she died.
Why did Jennie not seek a divorce from Charles Hambleton? The trials of 1909 and 1911 would provide ample grounds, and she had the money to employ a solicitor. Perhaps Charles Hambleton wanted a divorce, but had no grounds for a case against Jennie. Perhaps Jennie deliberately denied Charles Hambleton the opportunity of a divorce, but by so doing she was denying herself the opportunity of re-marriage. Jennie was separated from Charles Hambleton for 56 years, throughout which she continued to call herself Crymes ("wife of Charles Hambleton Crymes") even unto death.

Jennie's will

The value of Jennie's estate, £25,487 (see Grant of Probate at the top of this story) was an enormous amount of money in 1950. We can expect that Jennie would have employed a solicitor during her lifetime to advise on the management of her inheritance so as to minimise the amount subject to probate, so the full value of her estate may have been even more.
You will not be surprised that Jennie's 1946 will, which runs to three pages, contains no bequest to Charles Hambleton, even though it names him twice as "my husband". Jennie's estate was left in trust to her daughter Nellie Doris. There is an interesting clause in the will "... no power of appointment hereby given shall enable my said daughter Nellie Doris to appoint my Residuary Estate or any part thereof in favour of my said husband Charles Hambleton Crymes or any future wife that he may marry or any member of his family..." Ok Jennie, we've got that, thanks! Does this statement tell us that Jennie knew about Mary Louise, who might become his "future wife"? It's also interesting that Jennie thought it necessary to formally add this clause to her will. Would it not have been sufficient just to tell her daughter "now don't you give any of my money to your father"?


Who was Mary Louise?

Troubling though the KEMP-WELCH divorce case is, it doesn't help us understand who Mary Louise was. There are apparently no records of Mary Louise in the life of Charles Hambleton CRYMES before 1939.

  • Who was she?
  • How long had they been "man and wife"?
  • How could Charles Hambleton suddenly introduce a "wife" into his life without there being a marriage?

The last question at least may be answered by our knowledge of Charles Hambleton's occupation. In common with many clergymen, he was moved around the country from parish to parish. Perhaps he took the opportunity to leave one parish as a lone "widower" (which he wasn't) and arrive at the next as a "married" man. This would not be questioned by the new parishioners, who might content themselves with gossipping about the age difference between the new clergyman and his wife.

Mary Louise's death

Mary Louise's Death Certificate (1953) gives cause of death as "Cerebral Haemorrhage Hypertension", determined following a postmortem. This may be a form of what is commonly called a "stroke" and may have occured suddenly. The Death Certificate describes Mary Louise as "Wife of Charles Hambleton Crymes a Clerk in Holy Orders".

Mary Louise did not make a will and so she died intestate. Under these circumstances a Grant of Probate (for someone who made a will) becomes a Grant of Letters of Administration (for someone who did not make a will). Perhaps Charles Hambleton advised against employing a solicitor to make a will - solicitors ask questions - or else her death was simply unexpected at the age of 63 years.
As well as the Probate and Administration Index entry (at the top of this story) the Grant of Letters of Administration of Mary Louise's estate is described in another document:

Note the phrase "the lawful husband". Charles Hambleton could not avoid making the application for Letters of Administration of Mary Louise's estate, and this is one area where he appears to have committed a criminal offence, in claiming to be the husband of Mary Louise when they were not in fact married.


Charles Hambleton's death

The only remaining event to explore, chronologically, is Charles Hambleton's death, so we're nearly at the end of the story ... oh no we're not!

In comparison to Jennie's will, Charles Hambleton's is simple, but was clearly prepared by a solicitor, who is one of the witnesses.

Step-son

Charles Hambleton's will, written in 1953, appoints as his executor and sole beneficiary his "stepson" John Frederick Vitton CROWEST. I had not encountered this stepson in my research prior to this point. The appointment of John Frederick Vitton CROWEST is confirmed by the subsequent Grant of Probate following Charles Hambleton's death in 1959:

I can only interpret "stepson" in this context as "son of my wife by another relationship". The "wife" must be Mary Louise, so when I first saw this "stepson" mentioned, I was optimistic that researching John Frederick Vitton CROWEST would lead to an explanation of who Mary Louise was. Like everything else in this story, the findings are complicated and unexpected, and lead to a troubling conclusion.

John Frederick Vitton CROWEST is a unique name. We should expect John Frederick Vitton CROWEST's birth record to give the maiden surname of his mother, and from that we can look for a marriage record of his parents. This part of the research was easy:

  • John Frederick Vitton CROWEST was born in Hendon, Middlesex in 1912, mother's maiden surname HOLWILL.
  • The marriage of John Frederick Vitton CROWEST's parents is recorded as:
    Arthur F V CROWEST married Mollie HOLWILL at Paddington, London in 1911

But we were expecting the mother to be Mary Louise, not Mollie! What's going on here?
Were "Mollie" and "Mary Louise" the same person?
Further online research revealed that Mollie re-married in 1924 at St. Pancras, London, to Charles F GLANVILLE. We can be sure that this 1924 marriage relates to the Mollie in question because the online marriage records give both of Mollie's surnames Crowest and HOLWILL. In order to get more information about the marriage I ordered the Marriage Certificate. I'm sure your suspicions at this point are the same as mine were, but would the Marriage Certificate tell us enough to turn suspicions into conclusions? Was Charles F GLANVILLE a real person, or was he in fact Charles H CRYMES?
I was not confident that the 1924 Marriage Certificate would reveal anything of interest, and was quite prepared to accept that the 1924 marriage was simply another failed relationship of Mollie, prior to her meeting Charles Hambleton CRYMES at a later date. Then the certificate arrived ....

This is a remarkable document. Let's compare what it says about "Charles Francis GLANVILLE" with what we know about "Charles Hambleton CRYMES":

NameCharles Francis GLANVILLECharles Hambleton CRYMES
Age in 19245454
ConditionWidowerMarried
ProfessionLiterary WorkerLiterary Work
FatherThomas (deceased)Thomas (deceased)
Age of bride in 19243634

I conclude that this was a bigamous marriage of Charles Hambleton CRYMES. He only lied where necessary, giving a false name and incorrect condition at marriage. Both Charles Hambleton and Mollie embellished the professions of their fathers, but this is not at all uncommon, and merits no further attention. Other information which he gave to the registrar was correct. The occupation "Literary Worker" is extremely rare. Not "Author", "Novelist", "Publicist", "Editor", "Writer" or "Journalist" but "Literary Worker". Charles Hambleton had given his occupation as "Literary Work" in the 1911 England Census, and the same phrase appears in the 1909 divorce trial. At this 1924 marriage Charles Hambleton conveniently omitted to mention that he was an ordained minister of the Church of England. We might say that describing himself as "Literary Worker" was being economical with the truth. If the registrar asked why the couple were not marrying in church, they could simply point to Mollie's divorce.

The chances of there being another Charles, "Literary Worker", aged 54, father Thomas (deceased) who married a bride about 18 years his junior, are to my mind remote. There is also of course the known link between the bride Mollie and her son, Charles Hambleton CRYMES's "stepson". If you do not accept that this was a bigamous marriage of Charles Hambleton CRYMES, then you are forced to accept that this second marriage of Mollie HOLWILL also failed and that, at some later date, Mollie entered into a non-marital relationship with another Charles, "Literary Worker", aged 54 in 1924, father Thomas (deceased) - namely Charles Hambleton CRYMES. That is just not credible.

I presume that "Mollie Glanville" became "Mary Louise Crymes" at a suitable opportunity after the 1924 marriage - maybe straight away.

The 1924 marriage certificate describes Mollie as "Formerly the wife of Arthur Frederick Vitton Crowest, from whom she obtained a divorce." I do not know whether Mollie was actually divorced at the time of the 1924 marriage (we can't trust anything we read on this certificate), but her first husband Arthur F V CROWEST did re-marry in 1922, confirming that there was at least a separation.

In case this is all just a coincidence, I have searched the records for "Charles F GLANVILLE". There are several Charles F GLANVILLE in the records, but the best candidate based on year of birth is Charles Frank GLANVILLE born 1887 Newport, Monmouthshire. This Charles would be 37 years old in 1924, a long way from 54. So there is no Charles F GLANVILLE who matches the description given on the 1924 Marriage Certificate - not even close. In a further attempt to legitimise the 1924 marriage, I looked for Charles F GLANVILLE on The 1939 Register. We already know that Charles Hambleton CRYMES appears on The 1939 Register, so if Charles F GLANVILLE does also, then my assertion that they were the same person would be false. However, there is no Charles F GLANVILLE on The 1939 Register. Neither is there a Mollie Glanville. Of course, absence of records doesn't prove anything, but it does add to the circumstantial evidence.

So, we now know who Mollie/Mary Louise actually was. Further research shows that she was born Mary HOLWILL in 1886 at Barnstaple, Devon, the daughter of William HOLWILL, a brewery worker. Between 1901 and 1911 she changed her name to Mollie. Sometime after the 1924 marriage she changed her name back to Mary (Louise).

Was Mollie an innocent party in the 1924 marriage? Had she been duped by Charles Hambleton? Or was she aware of Charles Hambleton's existing marriage? It seems to me that if Mollie knew of Charles Hambleton's existing marriage then she would resist the suggestion of a marriage in 1924, being content to live with Charles Hambleton as "man and wife". Indeed this is what I originally thought had happened. If she did not know about Charles Hambleton's existing marriage, then she may have insisted on the 1924 marriage as a condition of their continuing relationship. But she must have learned the true identity of Charles Hambleton at some point, when his name (and hers) changed from GLANVILLE to CRYMES!

Before discovering the 1924 marriage, I struggled to understand why Charles Hambleton didn't marry Mary Louise after his wife Jennie had died in 1950? If he and Mary Louise had simply been living together as man-and-wife then the death of Jennie would enable him to legally marry Mary Louise, even in an Anglican Church if he wished. There are several possibilities, of which two are:

  • He did not know that Jennie had died. This is unlikely, as Jennie's will implies that Charles Hambleton was still in contact with his daughter Nellie Doris who would surely tell him of her mother's death.
  • He could not marry Mary Louise because in the eyes of all those around him he was married to her already. To marry her in 1950 would be to reveal his deceipt, and might uncover the bigamous 1924 marriage. They had got away with it for 26 years, so why rock the boat now?

John Frederick Vitton CROWEST (the stepson) died in Wolverhampton in 1985. Charles Hambleton CRYMES has no surviving siblings, children, nieces or nephews, but his daughter Nellie Doris had children in 1923 and 1925 who may themselves have children alive today. Charles Hambleton's revival of the CRYMES surname was short-lived and there are no CRYMES in the UK today.

Judgement

So, how do YOU judge Charles Hambleton CRYMES?

  • A serial womaniser
  • A man caught in a loveless marriage with no means of escape who had no choice but to resort to bigamy
  • A man who thought that his position in the Church placed him above the law
  • A compassionate minister of the Church

I suggest that he was all of these and, being a clever man, he was able to switch his character to suit the circumstances - something of a chameleon. You might wish to recall the newspaper cutting from 1934 where Charles Hambleton officiated at a wedding. He asked the bride and groom to solemnly take their vows, asking each partner to take thee, ...., to be my wedded Wife/Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part ... when he himself was a bigamist! You couldn't make it up.

So far as I am aware, nobody has previously pieced together the life story of Rev. Charles Hambleton CRYMES in the manner presented here. Who knew about Charles Hambleton and Mary Louise's true relationship within their lifetime? Who knew about the 1924 bigamous marriage? Did his daughter Nellie Doris know? Did the Church know?

Can you help? Do you have any information or comments on this story?

David Chrimes 2020

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