Kitty James and Child Marriage

In the little free time I’ve had lately, I’ve been focusing on my 3rd paternal great-grandmother, Catherine “Kitty” James Bellamy James. No, the second James isn’t a mistake. All evidence points to Kitty’s second husband having the same surname as her maiden name. Whether or not they were cousins has yet to be proven (that I’m aware of).

My first question about Kitty was what year she was born.

Her age jumps around a lot from census to census. From them, though, I gleaned a range from 1796 to 1810. They consistently give Virginia as her birth state.

She first appears in a document by name when she married Elliot Bellamy or Bellomy in Gallia County, Ohio, just across the river from West Virginia.

[Transcription:]

Richard Newman and Polly Rickman.
Elliot Bellamy and Kitty James:
The State of Ohio, Gallia County.

I do hereby certify that Richard Newman and Polly Rickman was lawfully joined together in the holy bonds of matrimony, on the 15th day of August 1816, by me the undersigned; Also Elliot Bellamy and Kitty James, on the first day of September, was lawfully joined together in the holy bonds of wedlock in this present month, by me.

David Robertson J.P.

[End of transcription]

According to later records, Kitty would have been anywhere from 6–21 years old on her wedding day. Gallia County was frontier in 1816, so I can’t imagine marriage laws were very strict, but I doubt they’d let a 6 year old marry.

Unlike his peers, Justice Robertson did not expressly state that the wives whose marriages he officiated were of legal age. But he does use the term legal. I couldn’t find a specific age of consent law for Ohio for 1816, but I did find that the age of consent for women in Ohio in 1851 was 14 (p. 213; Statute 24). Probably Kitty was at least 12, so I’m putting her birth year between 1796 and 1804.

A year and a day after her marriage she had her first son, William, named for Elliot’s father. William’s birthdate was etched into his tombstone, and the 1820 and 1830 censuses corroborate that she had two living children before 1820. Doing the math, it seems she was pregnant three months after the wedding. Her quick pregnancy supports my inference that Kitty was at least 12 years old (probably older).

I know. I only covered Kitty’s birthdate in this post, not her whole life. I’m sorry. I write short things, and Ive been researching Kitty for a long, long time so I have a lot to say. For the next part of my research, click here.

Sources:

1. Elliot Bellamy household. Federal Census Year: 1820. Location: Ohio Twp, Gallia County, Ohio; NARA Roll: M33_88; Image: 81. Accessed on Ancestry.com, 7 Mar 2020.

2. Elliot Bellamy household. Federal Census Year: 1830. Location: Harrison Twp, Gallia County, Ohio; Series: M19; Roll: 131; Page: 126; Family History Library Film: 0337942. Accessed on Ancestry.com, 7 Mar 2020.

3. Jacob James household. Federal Census Year: 1840. Location: Green Twp, Gallia County, Ohio; Roll: 395; Page: 61; Family History Library Film: 0020165. Accessed on Ancestry.com, 7 Mar 2020.

4. Jacob James household. Federal Census Year: 1850; Census Place: Nile Twp, Scioto, Ohio; Roll: M432_727; Page: 74A. Accessed on Ancestry.com, 7 Mar 2020.

5. Jacob James household. Federal Census Year: 1870; Census Place: Clay, Harrison, Missouri; Roll: M593_. Accessed on Ancestry.com, 7 Mar 2020.

6. Frank Young household. Iowa State Census Year: 1885; Location: Ward 2, Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa. Accessed on Ancestry.com, 7 Mar 2020.

7. Ohio County Marriage Records, 1774-1993; Film Number: 000317652; Page: 32. Elliot Bellamy and Kitty James, Gallia County, Ohio, 1 Sep 1816. Accessed on Ancestry.com, 7 Mar 2020.

8. Century Publishing of the American Digest, West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1902. Page 213, Statute 24. Accessed on Google Books, 7 Mar 2020 (https://bit.ly/2VTcFte).

9. “Child Marriage, Common In the Past, Persists Today,” Andrea Dukakis, Colorado Public Radio, 4 Apr 2017. Accessed on CPR.org, 7 Mar 2020 (https://bit.ly/2TBXOSB).