On 23 June 1848 in Bow Church, William Manley, 24, bachelor and Caroline King, 25, spinster, were married by the Rector, Rev Frederick vander Meulen. Neither bride nor groom could write their name, so signed the register with a X.

William was a farm worker, born in Payhembury in East Devon; Caroline, also known as Catherine, was brought up in Sampford Courtenay. As a girl she had been apprenticed to farmer William Kelland at Youlden, Sampford Courtenay.

At the time of their marriage, both were living in Bow, and they were shown as still living there, on the main street, in the 1851 census.

Image description

However in August 1856, William deserted her and her children. She became a burden on the Exeter Parish of St Mary Major, where she was then living. On 26 Jan 1857, an order was made for Caroline/Catherine Manley to be removed to Payhembury Parish, her husband’s birth place. Payhembury contested this decision, and in April 1857 the appeal was heard in the Exeter Quarter Sessions.

The grounds for the appeal were that their marriage was invalid, in that William Manley was already married. Evidence was produced showing he had indeed married a Mary Ann Vicary in Exeter Register Office on 17 April 1844. Her mother Mary Loddy – more likely William’s aunt - confirmed that this was correct, and that “her daughter” had been transported to Tasmania in 1847 when aged 22. She believed she was still alive, in which case his second marriage was not valid.

Caroline King said that she did not know Manley’s  family. She met him for the first time just 3 months before their marriage. Two to three days before the wedding a Martha Loddy (a cousin of Mary Loddy) had brought a letter (suggested to be from Tasmania) part of which she read to them. William denied the accuracy of that letter. It presumably came from his first wife.

Mary Ann nee Vicary,  William Manley’s first wife, had been convicted of receiving stolen goods - a watch. She was sentenced to 14 years transportation. It was alleged that she had encouraged his younger brothers and sisters to steal for her. At the same court Mary, Henry and Charlotte Manley aged 14, 11 and 10 were all sentenced to seven years’ transportation for house breaking, although it appears that only Mary was sent to Tasmania on the Cadet, along with her older sister-in-law.

In Tasmania Mary Ann Manley married twice before her death aged 75 in Hobart in 1899.


It is not clear what became of William Manley or his second wife back in Devon.