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Petty Sessions - June 1940s

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 3rd July, 1942, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Girl Paid for Ring and Licence
Soldier’s Alleged Bigamy with Rushden Girl
The legal wife of a 31-year-old trooper, charged with bigamy at Wellingborough Petty Sessions on Friday told the court “when this is over we both intend to live together.”

The trooper, Percy George Chapman, was charged with bigamously marrying Eileen Vera Hopkins (19), leather worker, 96, Harborough-road, Rushden, while his wife, Elsie Lorraine, to whom he was married on December 26th, 1936, was still alive.

Eileen Vera Hopkins was charged with aiding and abetting.

Mr. R. Ward (Messrs. Burnham, Son and Lewin) represented Hopkins.

Wife’s Evidence
Elsie Lorraine, 104, Park-road, said that she first met accused in 1934, became engaged to him in 1935, and on December 26th, 1936 was married to him at Pontypridd Register Office. She gave birth to a daughter on December 23rd, 1937. At that time her husband was employed at Coomb Park Colliery at Cwmparc.

He was called up for the Army in September, 1939, and since had been stationed at several places including Rushden. She visited him at Rushden for about 12 months and lived with him at his billets. A second child, a son, was born to her on January 2nd, 1942, but had since died. They had always been happy together and about the beginning of May this year accused went home on leave. He told her he had married a Rushden girl and asked forgiveness.

He said he was sorry for what he had done and would give himself up. They both intended to live together after this was over. Witness did not know Hopkins and had never seen her before that day.

Asked No Questions
Beatrice Millicent Hopkins, mother of Miss Hopkins, 96, Harborough-road, Rushden said that she was evacuated to the district. Her daughter, Eileen, started to keep company with accused in December, 1941. During January 1942, her daughter told her that she was going to marry accused. Arrangements were made and the couple went through a form of marriage at Wellingborough Register Office, where witness was present, on February 7th, 1942. She knew accused in the name of James Chapman and believed him to be a single man. She never had any conversation with accused about his past life. Her daughter did not receive an Army allowance. “I never asked him any questions, although I knew my daughter was only 19 years old,” witness said.

A police constable in the Dorsetshire Constabulary stated that at the request of accused he interviewed him on May 14th at an Army camp. He informed witness that he had committed bigamy and wished to make a statement of confession.

Said Girl Paid for the Ring
The statement said that he met Miss Hopkins at a dance and told her at that time that he was married but was getting a divorce. That was an untrue statement. He admitted that when he “married” Miss Hopkins, she paid for the ring and for the special licence. “I married Eileen for pity’s sake,” he added. “She had made up her mind to get married and I did not want to disappoint her. I take all the blame.”

Detective-Sergeant Meacock said that on June 24th, 1942, he saw accused at Wellingborough Police Station and charged him with the offence of bigamy. Accused said: “I admit it. I want the whole matter clearing up so that I can go back to my wife and child.

“Loved Each Other”
On May 19th, witness interviewed Hopkins and she made a statement in which she said that Chapman kept company with her and she fell in love with him. “I was informed that he was married,” she said, “and when I asked him he told me he was getting a divorce. In January, 1942, we wanted to get married because we loved each other. After marriage my husband obtained a sleeping out pass and we lived as man and wife for some time.”

The Detective-Sergeant added that later he arrested Hopkins.

“I want it all finished with,” said Chapman to the court. “I want to go back to my wife.”

Mr. Ward stated that Hopkins pleaded not guilty. Mr. Ward submitted, on behalf of Hopkins that no prima facie case had been made out on which she should be committed for trial.

The chairman (Mr. J. Spencer) said that the Bench thought that a case had been made out and that both accused would be committed for trial at Warwickshire Assizes, to be held next month.

Mr. Ward applied for bail for Hopkins and this was granted in a personal surety of £5 and two others of similar sums.

An application by the girl for legal aid was refused.


From Rushden Eho & Argus 15 June 1945

At Higham Ferrers Petty Sessions on Monday, William Harold Johnson transport foreman, of 222 Wellingborough Road, Rushden, was fined 10s. for driving a motor van under a limited trade licence and plates and failing to carry and produce upon demand the duplicate entry of the record book provided for that purpose at Higham Ferrers on May 19th.

Derek Clifford Martin (17), a railway worker of 18 Pemberton Street, Rushden was fined 12s.6d. for riding a bicycle without lights at Higham Ferrers on the night of June 1st.

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