A Strange Encounter

The English Courts and Mormon Polygamy



In 1866 English courts for the first time encountered a “Mormon” (i.e., polygamous) marriage. On 22 March of that year The [London] Times related: “It is a strange fact that no case should have arisen on the validity of Mormon marriages before that of “Hyde v. Hyde”, which came before the Divorce Court in January last.” Actually, it is not surprising that the courts of Great Britain had not had an opportunity to rule upon the validity of a “Mormon” marriage before 1866 when it is realized that the leading American case of Reynolds v. United States was still thirteen years away. What is surprising, however, is the nature of Hyde v. Hyde and Woodmansee. It involved a once-married former Mormon, bitterly opposed to the practice of plural marriage, who was attempting to divorce his one wife, still living in Utah.


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