Montreal Daily Star, 15 August 1892, page 6

A Scene in Church

A Strange Lady Forbids the Marriage Banns

She charges one of the candidates for matrimony with attempted bigamy

The marriage record of St Patrick’s Confirm the charge

In the midst of the religious services in St John the Evangelist’s Church yesterday morning an event occurred more interesting to the city generally than the services themselves.  Just before the sermon the Rev Arthur French, who was officiating announced the intention of marriage between two members of the congregation and was about to publish the banns of matrimony for a second couple who were strangers to the church, when an unknown lady rose and in a clear voice said: “I forbid the banns.”

“Which Banns?” enquired Mr. French.

“Those of Charles Morin and Anastasia Baker,” replied the lady.

“On what gounds?” asked the clergyman.

“Because,” was the reply, “Mr. Morin is already married.”

That was sufficient.  Mr. French declared the banns withdrawn, and so the scene ended.  The sermon was proceeded with and the services concluded as usual, without any outward sensation.  But it is safe to say that the devotions of no congregation in Montreal were ever more distracted by any incident or interruption in their worship than that which occurred in St John the Evangelist’s yesterday.

There was an air of mystery about the whole occurrence which could not fail to arouse all the inquisitiveness of human curiosity.  Nobody in the church knew the couple who were charged with attempted bigamy, nor did any one know the identity of the veiled lady who prohibited the onus.  She left the church immediately after


And was only seen for a moment afterwards by Mr. French in the vestry.  She came there to produce the proof of the statement she had made in the church.  This proof was a note from the Rev Father Quinlivan, of St Patrick’s Church.  It stated briefly that Charles Morin had been married in St Patrick’s Church in 1886, and the lady bearing the note affirmed that it was the same Charles Morin who now wished to marry Miss Baker.  She said she (the veiled lady) was Miss Baker’s sister.  Hence her interest in the affair.

A Star reporter called on the Rev Mr. French this morning and learned that the antecedents of Mr. Morin and Miss Baker were as much a mystery to the curate as they were to the congregation.  He only knew that the couple applied to him to be married in the regular way.  The publication of the banns was the first necessary legal form. That was complied with and the result was as has been stated.  “Further than that,” said Mr. French, “I know nothing of the case.  We have many marriages of strangers who suppose that they meet each other half way here.”

“You mean half way between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism?” asked the reporter.

“That’s what they mean” was the laughing reply.

“A sort of Gretna Green, I suppose?”

“Yes, in cases of mixed marriages the contracting parties seem to have a preference for us.”

The Rev Father Quinlivan was then called on.  He too, knew nothing of either Moring or Miss Baker.  He did not marry them, the late Rev Father Dowd did that.

“I only know,” he continued, “that a strange lady came to me and asked for a proof of Morin’s marriage to Miss Hannah Cleary six years ago.  I gave her a note which she took to St John the Evangelist’s.  She seemed in such distress that I did not ask her name, but she told me she was a sister of the woman Mr. Morin was now anxious to marry, that is, Miss Baker.  I understood she was a Roman Catholic.  If so, according to provincial law the marriage, if it had been made, would have been null and void, for the law is that no two Roman Catholics can be married by a Protestant clergyman.  But they might have renounced their religion, and that would have validated the ceremony.”

Calling at the Seminary, the reporter searched the records and found an entry of the marriage of Charles Olivier Morin, son of Daniel Morin, of Point St Charles, and Hannah Cleary, daughter of the deceased Lawrence Cleary and Margaret Coleman, of the same place.  The marriage banns were published by the late Vicar-General Marechal and the ceremony performed by the late Father Dowd, and witnessed by Alfred Gauce.