Marriage of Deceit
William Stickler married Emma Bence on 22 July 1857 at St Marks Church, Lyncombe, Somerset; about 15 miles (24 km) south west of Castle Combe, and just south of Bath.
Their marriage certificate stated that they were both aged 21 and that William was a gardener, son of William, and that Emma was the daughter of John Bence. The marriage is witnessed by James Bence and Pamela Bence.
Their first child, Mary Ann Stickler, was born 27 December 1857; just five months after their wedding. So Emma was obviously pregnant when she married William. It also transpires that they were both under age and not only did they lie about their age but also who their parents were. The real Emma Bence, daughter of John Bence, died in 1851 at about the age of ten therefore she couldn't have been the Emma who married William in 1857. Whereas Emma Bence the daughter of Isaac Bence had a brother and sister named James Bence and Pamela Bence; the same names as the witnesses to their marriage.
After extensive research by Margaret Prevost and others it seems clear that: -
- Emma was the daughter of Isaac Bence, not John Bence.
- She lied about her age and her father's name.
- Her siblings were the witnesses at her wedding.
- That she became pregnant at about 17, ran away with William and married out of County without her parent's permission but with her brother and sister aiding and abetting.
- William lied also about his age and about being the son of William in Castle Combe. His real parents appear to be that of George Stickler and Hannah Sparrow.
- 1. William Stickler (c1838-1915)
- 16. Robert Stickler (c1695-1767)
- 17. Susanna (c1695-1742)