BIGAMY, crim. law, domestic relations. The willful contracting of a second
marriage when the contracting party knows that the first is still
subsisting; or it is the state of a man who has two wives, or of a woman who
has two husbands living at the same time. When the man has more than two
wives, or the woman more than two husbands living at the same time, then the
party is said to have committed polygamy, but the name of bigamy is more
frequently given to this offence in legal proceedings. 1 Russ. on Cr. 187.
2. In England this crime is punishable by the stat. 1 Jac. 1, c. 11,
which makes the offence felony but it exempts from punishment the party
whose husband or wife shall continue to remain absent for seven years before
the second marriage, without being heard from, and persons who shall have
been legally divorced. The statutory provisions in the U. S. against bigamy
or polygamy, are in general similar to, and copied from the statute of 1
Jac. 1, c. 11, excepting as to the punishment. The several exceptions to
this statute are also nearly the same in the American statutes, but the
punishment of the offence is different in many of the states. 2 Kent, Com.
69; vide Bac. Ab. h. t.; Com. Dig. Justices, Sec. 5; Merlin, Repert. mot
Bigamie; Code, lib. 9, tit. 9, 1. 18; and lib. 5, tit. 5, 1. 2.
3. According to the canonists, bigamy is three-fold, viz.: (vera,
interpretative, et similitudinaria,) real, interpretative and
similitudinary. The first consisted in marrying two wives successively,
(virgins they may be,) or in once marrying a widow; the second consisted,
not in a repeated marriage, but in marrying (v. g. meretricem vel ab alio
corruptam) a harlot; the third arose from two marriages indeed, but the one
metaphorical or spiritual, the other carnal. This last was confined to
persons initiated in sacred orders, or under the vow Of continence.
Deferriere's Tract, Juris Canon. tit. xxi. See also Bac. Abr. h. t.; 6
Decret, 1. 12. Also Marriage.
, common-law marriage
, companionate marriage
, left-handed marriage
, love match
, marriage of convenience
, morganatic marriage
, picture marriage
, trial marriage