28th August 1940

Jersey man in court accused of bigamy

Jersey man Philip Vasse found himself in court accused of bigamy. The 35-year-old had married Hilda Andrews in Wells and, a few years later returned from the mainland to Jersey. This was despite the fact that his first wife, Gracie May, was still alive and living in the island.

Although the marriage took place at the end of August 1940, when Jersey was under occupation, Vasse wasn’t found out until 1948. Nonetheless, he’d been interviewed several times in the interim and seemingly not been caught, through giving convincing explanations and because it wasn’t practical to investigate further.

Next of kin

Unfortunately for Vasse, his first wife was still registered as his next of kin in his army pay book, which had raised some eyebrows. However, when being interviewed by the police about this in 1943, he had claimed to have received a telegram from the Red Cross telling him that his first wife, Gracie May, had been killed. If this was true it would have left him free to marry Hilda Andrews, but it wasn’t, and it was impossible for authorities to check, as getting information out of the Channel Islands had been all but impossible at the time.

Eventually, though, Vasse’s luck ran out and, in 1948, mainland police were dispatched to Jersey to arrest him. Upon hearing the charge, he told them he had nothing to say, and he was brought to trial in early July.

A second marriage

As revealed in court, and reported in the Central Somerset Gazette of 9 July 1948, Vasse had joined the army, but returned to the mainland on sick leave. By then, he had already fathered three children with his wife in Jersey, but this didn’t stop him asking Hilda Andrews to marry him.

They had met when he was lodging in Wells and become close companions during that time. Andrews, the court was told, was unaware that Vasse was already married at the time of their own wedding which, as with many such unions during the war, proceeded fairly quickly. Eleven months later the couple had a son but, eventually, their relationship soured and they separated.

It was unfortunate for him that the next time they should face each other would be in a court of law.


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