The Grenadier Guardsman who married three sisters - or did he? :: Genealogy
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The Grenadier Guardsman who married three sisters - or did he?

Journal by jonalex

My mother's grandmother was Esther Gunton (b. 1845 in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire). She had an elder brother called Thomas Widdows Gunton (b.1843 Chatteris)who was witness at her (first) wedding.

Thomas married three times, each time to ladies called Passingham.
I have the three wedding certificates plus other evidence to show that it is the same Thomas and that the three Passingham ladies were sisters.
In chronological order of events, the tale unfolds thus:

1865 on Esther Gunton's Marriage Cert., one of the witnesses is shown as Tho.Ws.Gunton,Serg. 3rd. 13th.Grenr.Guards.

1869 - Marriage Cert. Thomas Widdows Gunton (full age) - Sergeant 3rd Batt.Gren. Gds. married Maryann Passingham (full age). Thomas's father is Richard Gunton, shoemaker, Maryann's father is John Passingham, Wheelwright. Thomas's address is Windsor Barracks and that of Maryann is shown as "Tower Liberty". The wedding took place in the Royal Chapel in the Tower of London.

1871 (31st January) Marriage Cert. Thomas Widdows Gunton (full age) Drill Sergeant in the Grenadier Guards at Chelsea Barracks, (father, Richard Gunton, shoemaker), married Annie Passingham (full age) of
9 Oxford Street, father John Passingham, wheelwright. The wedding took place at The Parish Church of St. Simon, Chelsea.

1871 Census shows Thomas W. Gunton (29) Colour Sergeantand wife Annie (23) living atChelsea Barracks.

1881 Census shows Thomas Gunton (40) Quartermaster Grenadier Guards and wife Anne (33) at Chelsea Barracks.

1882(1st February) Death Cert. for Maryann Gunton, wife of Thomas Widdows Gunton (Quarter Master 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards. Cause of Death - Suicide by Drowning while of uncertain mind. At this time they were based at Windsor Barracks and an Inquest was held in New Windsor on 2nd January 1882.

1883 Wedding Cert. Thomas Widdows Gunton (39) Widower,Quarter Master Grenadier Guards, father- (Richard Gunton[deceased]-Bootmaker), married Emily Theresa Passingham, father John Passingham, Coach Builder. The wedding took place at "The Church in The Grove, Sydenham"
in Lewisham, by Licence'in accordance with the Rites and Ceremonies of the Congregationalists'.

Later census forms show Thomas and Emily with their children, Thomas being described as a retired Captain. He was called up again in World War I with the rank of Major. I understand that he may have retired finally with the rank of Colonel.

The mystery surrounds the first two marriages. Were Maryann and Annie the same person and if so, why did they marry twice? It could not be that they were 'underage' as at the time of the first wedding in 1869, Thomas would have been 26 years old and Maryann would have been 22 years old. As her father was present at all weddings (he is shown as a witness) they could hardly be marrying without consent, even if it had been needed. It is a puzzle that if Maryann and Annie were two different people, how is it that the death cert of Maryann in 1882 shows her to be Thomas's wife, when he has apparently married Annie some ten years previously?
Why did she committ suicide? Did she think that Thomas was 'carrying on' with her younger sister? There are many unanswered questions here. Can anyone help? For example, how do I go about finding the Coroner's report?
Any help to explain the mystery would be appreciated.

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by jonalex Profile | Research | Contact | Subscribe | Block this user
on 2007-02-14 17:20:17

jonalex , from Devon, UK, has been a Family Tree Circles member since Jan 2007. is researching the following names: ALEXANDER, ASHBY, GUNTON and 13 other(s).

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by dora_coffman on 2007-02-15 00:32:54

not to ad to your confusion but, I found another one in the 1881 british census. I'm not sure if this is yours or not. Maybe there was simply more than one?

Thomas GUNTON Household


Other Information:
Birth Year <1843>
Birthplace Manea, Cambridge, England
Age 38
Occupation Corn Miller
Marital Status M
Head of Household Thomas GUNTON
Relation Head

Name Relation Marital Status Gender Age Birthplace Occupation Disability
Thomas GUNTON Head M Male 38 Manea, Cambridge, England Corn Miller
Elizabeth GUNTON Wife M Female 34 Brighouse, York, England
Sophia GUNTON Daur Female 8 Brighouse, York, England Scholar
Joseph GUNTON Son Male 4 Beal, York, England Scholar
Handel GUNTON Son Male 2 Beal, York, England
Herbert GUNTON Son Male 1 Beal, York, England

by jonalex on 2007-02-15 06:17:21

Many thanks,Dora, but no, I know there are (literally) hundreds of Guntons in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, but I know I have the right Thomas throughout.
His mother, Ann Gunton had the maiden name of Widdows, so it's unlikely that another Thomas Widdows Gunton occurs. Don't forget, I also have him on my G-Grandmother's Marriage Cert. - (his sister Esther) -showing Thomas Widdows Gunton as a witness. I also have both Esther and Thomas Widdows Gunton's Birth Certs.
(Incidently, I can take Ann Widdows back on her maternal side, toa John Lister b 1605 - but that's another story.)
Thanks anyway

by TonyW on 2007-02-21 04:56:48

Hello Jonalex,
Interested in any WIDDOWS from Norwich. Is that where your Ann came from? If so I can probably locate paternal side for you. I have no GUNTON in my database however, but a few Ann WIDDOWS that I have not found a partner for!
Tony Widdows

by jonalex on 2007-02-21 07:31:19

Hello Tony,

Various Census forms show my Ann Widdows as being born in Welney Norwich, or Upwell Norwich, but both are sometimes shown as being in Cambridgeshire.
She was born c 1804 and married Richard Gunton on 13.04.1824 at Mepal in Cambs. Richard was born in Chatteris, Cambs and that is where they raised their family.
Ann Widdows was the daughter of Thomas Widdows born c 1769 in Upwell, and Elizabeth Dalton, who was born c1779 in Welney.
Thomas and Elizabeth married 01.10.1798 and their children were Ann (1804), Elizabeth (1807), William (1812), Susannah (1813) and John (1816).

Thomas died c1823 and Elizabeth died c1850 (To be confirmed).
I know nothing of Thomas Widdows ancestry, but I have details of the Dalton side. Her father was Robert Dalton and her mother was Elizabeth Naylor. I go back one further generation with the Daltons but can go back 7 generations with the Naylors and 4 generations of Lister, Elizabeth Naylor's maternal line.
I can pass these on to you if you are interested, - I am very interested in anything you have on the Widdows line if Ann is from your family.
Thanks very much for the reply.
John (jonalex)

by TonyW on 2007-06-21 04:54:01

Sorry late reply - I can't connect your Thomas WIDDOWS 1768 with any of my Norwich mob.

by jonalex on 2007-06-21 06:49:00

Thanks for trying, anyway.
Can anyone else help with the Widdows line - please?


by Gunton on 2011-09-10 12:54:04

Dear John
My Great Grandfather is the late Captain Thomas Widdows Gunton of the Grenadier Guards, we have an excellent picture of him in the hall in uniform, ( I can get a copy sent to you) my cousin is probably the best authority on the family history and I can put you in touch he has much documentation and pictures.
From my understanding there were 3 sisters and he certainly married 2 if notr 3 of the sisters
Best regards Peter

by jonalex on 2011-09-10 13:57:08

Dear Peter,
I have sent you an email with my email address but am also responding publicly to say I would appreciate a copy of your photo and that I have a small photo of Thomas and Esther, both seated, with one of Esther's grandchildren (one of my uncles)standing behind and between them.
I am happy to send you a copy if you want it.
I have plenty of notices of Thomas promotions and transfers from various editions of the London Gazette, but I know nothing about his 'demotion'. I am intrigued!
Kind regards,

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