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Bigamy Scandal in the 1950’s

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My maternal grandparents were both born in Booterstown, Co. Dublin. Ireland in the 1920’s. My grandmother was a Roman Catholic and my grandfather was a Protestant, and they married in 1948. They moved to England circa 1950 where they had 6 children. They then apparently divorced and my grandfather remarried (the lady who had been his mistress) and had a further 6 children and my grandmother married (a couple of years later) a lovely man who raised her 6 children.
When researching my family tree I have come across some anomalies.
It was widely known in the family that my grandfather had already fathered the 1st child of his second marriage whilst still married to his first wife (my grandmother) which was allegedly the cause of the divorce. However I found that not only was this true, but he actually fathered the first 2 children of his second marriage whilst still married to his first wife. The first 2 of the second marriage are around the same age as the last 2 of the 1st marriage. (Still following?!)
And upon more digging, I discovered that he did in fact MARRY his 2nd wife 6 months prior to the birth of their 1st child. How honourable. Slightly awkward though as he went on to have a further 2 children with the 1st wife.
So....we have a case of bigamy, as the 1st wife definitely kicked him out when she learned of the 2nd family he had started and certainly didn’t go on to have more children with him.
Now the plot thickens. As far as the family were aware, my grandmother remarried circa 1959 and this new husband brought all 6 children up and was much loved by them all. They also remember throwing a 20th wedding anniversary party for their parents circa 1979.
However, during my research I discovered that they actually did not get married circa 1959, but it was in fact in 1980! How strange! Now my grandmother, although not a practicing Catholic, was a woman of high morals and did not approve of ‘living in sin’. So the mystery is - why did she and her ‘husband’ live in sin for over 20 years before getting married, whilst leading everyone to believe that they were married? I do know that he had also been married before and had also divorced.
I have obtained a copy of their marriage certificate which states their correct ages in 1980, all details are correct and also that they are both ‘divorced’.
So what I want to find out is....why did they wait 20 years to get married? Did his first wife refuse to give him a divorce? Was my grandmother not legally free to marry if her first husband (being a bigamist!) refused to sign the papers, perhaps to avoid his actions coming to light? I feel that some of these answers could lie in the divorce records.
I’m really struggling to find any divorce records for my grandparents and also for my step-grandfathers first marriage. Are these available online? Would the records for my grandparents divorce be filed in Ireland as they were married there? Or in England as this is where they lived at the time of the divorce?
I would really appreciate any help with this, and apologies for the long post, but I wanted to lay the facts out and attempt to explain this complicated saga!
 

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