He married my great-great grandmother in 1873 and they had 10 children. The marriage took place in Cust in the South Island of New Zealand - Mary Ann Hutt was the bride. On viewing the marriage certificate print out I noticed that Joseph was recorded as Joseph Alfred Abbott, a bachelor of full age and Mary Ann was 17 years old. By 1884 the family are appearing in records in Otaki on the North Island of New Zealand, where Joseph is registered as a baker on the Otaki Electoral Roll.
So, why the query about a previous marriage? While researching more information about his birth I found another marriage of a Joseph Abbott in 1863, South Island, New Zealand. Initially, I dismissed this as not being my Joseph but a few other facts started to emerge that showed it may indeed be. I located a Joseph Abbott who sailed back and forth between Lyttleton, New Zealand, and Sydney, NSW, on the “Heather Bell” as a cook and steward, my Joseph became a baker in later life. This employment appeared to end in 1863, the year of the reported previous marriage to Mary Ann Cosgraves. I was able to find documentation for three children of this marriage and then, sadly, Mary Ann’s death from “exhaustion from protracted labour” in 1868. The child also perished. I have found no record of what happened to the two surviving young girls but in 1871 Joseph winds up in jail after stealing a cow!
How do I prove there is only one Joseph Abbott? A careful check of New Zealand BDM records showed only one Joseph Abbott marrying in New Zealand between 1863 and 1873. All Abbott children born in New Zealand, between 1862 and 1889, where the father was recorded as Joseph have Mary Ann (e) as their mother and are my proven ancestors. I was also not able to find a death for Joseph Abbott between the demise of the first wife in 1868 and marriage to my great-great grandmother in 1873. Everything was pointing toward there only being one Joseph but I was still not convinced.
Then, whilst on my Ancestry account I came across a hint for one of my great grandaunts, Harriet Abbott born in 1884, sister to my great grandmother. This document had been attached to Harriet by a DNA match - a 4th proven cousin I had had previous contact with.
Further research (currently underway) as to where both Harriet and Mary were educated might shed some light on this.
Mary Elizabeth’s mother was Mary Ann Cosgraves and Harriet’s, Mary Ann Hutt; however, as reported in the Salvation Army document, they did regard themselves as sisters. I am happy I have proven, to my satisfaction, and after many years of research, that Joseph Abbott was, in fact, married twice.