As history shows, at the time of little Maria Whiteman’s death in 1857 her father Edward Browne was seeing a woman other than her mother Mary, and the new relationship was very much to Edward’s parents liking. After burying his tiny daughter and leaving Mary to mourn alone Edward arrived home to find Matilda Cook and her parents seated in the drawing room with his mother and father. Matilda’s eyes, red rimmed from crying, searched his face as soon as he entered the room but the glacial stare from Matilda’s father set the tone of discussion for the evening. Matilda was pregnant, and her father insisted on a marriage.
Edward and Matilda were married just weeks later, but Edward had not been to see Mary in that time, and so the news of the marriage reached Mary by word of mouth. She was in absolute turmoil having just lost her precious baby, and now losing the love of her life. How could she have been so stupid as to think Edward would ever take her as his wife? Mary’s heart hardened just a little the day she heard that Edward and Matilda had a brand new baby boy named John William Browne, just a short time after their marriage. She had done the math, Edward had cheated on her! It had been a very big year for Edward Browne!
For roughly three years Mary worked hard at whatever work she could find to support her two beautiful children. She was employed as a wet nurse to families with new babies and cleaned people’s homes, among other things.
One evening, as Harriet and Spencer were playing on the kitchen floor and Mary was clearing up after the evening meal, there was a bold, loud knock at the door. Mary opened the door and her heart pounded with joy to see Edward standing there, but in that fleeting instant of joy, common-sense took hold so she slammed the door shut in his face, and held her breath. Edward knocked again, calling her name over and over, causing such a commotion that Mary again opened the door as he was upsetting the children. This time Edward was ready and stepped straight into the hall, pushing past Mary as he did so. “Okay, I did the wrong thing, I know it, but she’s a cow, and the kids are brats, and all I want is for us to be together – as husband and wife Mary, I swear – as husband and wife,” blurted Edward.
Mary was still holding her breath, could he be telling the truth? No, in her heart she knew he was still lying but she made him wait as she settled the children in their bed for the night. She made him wait yet again, whilst she finished in the kitchen, and all the while Edward sat on the hard, wooden chair by the fire, not uttering a word.
When Mary passed by him to put away the dish she was holding Edwards arms snaked around her, the kiss coming swiftly, and Mary’s heart melted. Mary’s defences dropped and she let him into her bed once again.
The result was a precious daughter; baby Mary Ann Whiteman was born on the 20th July, 1861, again there was no father listed on the birth certificates.
Edward’s wife Matilda delivered a baby boy whilst she was visiting family in Tamworth, and she named him Edward after his father. Baby Edward was born on 20 September 1861, just two months after little Mary Ann. Edward had two women totally devoted to him, and willing to attend to his every need. He also had two women bearing his children at the same times.