About the product

QSA 2nd Royal Berks Regt

Queen’s South Africa, 2 bars, Cape Colony, SA 1902, 5227 Private William Basil Fowler, 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment. Convicted of Bigamy and Theft, had 2 wives at once.

Out of stock

Origin: United Kingdom
Good Very Fine


Queen’s South Africa, 2 bars, Cape Colony, SA 1902, 5227 Private William Basil Fowler, 2nd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment, the Royal Berks. 


Officially impressed: “5277 Pte W. Fowler, Rl: Berks: Regt”


Confirmed on the medal roll, for both clasps, for service with the 2nd Battalion.


William Basil Fowler, was born circa 1880 in Maidenhead, Berkshire.


Son of John and Emma, of Victoria St, Maidenhead.


He attested aged 18 on 17th January 1898.

Whilst underage he had served in the 3rd Militia Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment.


Whilst closing out his army service in the Army Reserve, he was convicted by the “Civil Powers” on 15th march 1909.


When he got out he was “Discharged having been convicted by Civil Power of Felony” on 31st March 1909.

He had done 11 years 74 days, and only had to reach 12 years to be finish out his enlistment.


he saw the following service:


Home, 19th Jan 1898 – 27th Jan 1900

Gibraltar, 28th Jan 190 – 29th Apr 1904

South Africa, 30th April 1902 – 30th Oct 1902

Egypt, 31st Oct 1902 – 5th March 1904, during this time earned his Mounted Infantry Certificate in Cairo, 15th Nov 1903.

Cyprus, 6th March 1904 – 2nd March 1905

Egypt, 3rd March 1905 – 22nd Jan 1906

Home, 23rd Jan 1906 – 31st March 1909.



During World War 1, he wasted no time in enlisting on 23rd November 1914, joining his local Berkshire Yeomanry.


He was however discharged on 22nd February 1915 “Having been found medically unfit for further service.”


Only having served about 3 months he did not earn any WW1 medals, but could proudly wear the “Silver War Badge” issued to him in it’s place during Feb 1917 (Badge Number 30799).




William found himself in court with multiple charges, not only had he stolen a Bicycle, he was also found guilty of Bigamy which caused some laughter in the courtroom, having attempted to take on his 2nd wife.



Berkshire Chornicle, 20th March 1909:




William Basil Fowler, of 24 Victoria Street, Maidenhead, was charged with the theft of a bicycle and accessories, valued at £5 15s 9d while bailed on the same.

The owner of the Machine, George Walter Keyte, Cycle Dealer, King Street, Maidenhead, stated the prisoner obtained the bicycle from him on 12th Dec 1908 on the easy payment system of £1 per month, but with the exception of the first deposit of 5s nothing had been paid.


Police Constable Warren spoke to apprehending the prisoner in King Street on the 12th Inst.

At the Police Station he said: “I took the bicycle to Simpson’s in Grenfell Road, I got £1 for it.”

The prisoner was remanded in custody until Monday.

On Monday the prisoner pleaded guilty, and the magistrates sent him to gaol for 3 months hard labour.”


Right below this entry is him right back into court for a “Serious charge of bigamy”




A serious charge of bigamy has been preferred against a young man named William Basil Fowler from Maidenhead, residing at 24 Victoria Street. The charge against Fowler is that on the 7th day of January 1909, at the Registry Office in the district of Chertsey, in the County of Surrey, he feloniously did marry and take to wife one Florence Beesley, despite having previously married Nellie Swadling on the 26th day of January 1997, who was still alive. Both women were present in court. There is one child from the first marriage, and the young woman Florence Beesley resides in Maidenhead.


Evidence of the first marriage was given by a witness of the ceremony named James Young, a chairmaker residing at Jubilee Cottages, London Road, High Wycombe. P.C. Warren spoke to going to the Parish Church in Great Marlow, where he found the record of the marriage of Fowler and Nellie Swadling in the marriage register.


When the warrant was read to the prisoner, he said, “I’m in a pretty fine predicament now; I must have been mad when I did it.”


Florence Beesley, of 6 Raymond Road, said that she got to know the prisoner last August, and he represented himself as a single man. They walked out together until Christmas last.


Florence Beesley and the prisoner began a romantic relationship. It was suggested that they should get married, and this idea was agreed upon. The prisoner made all the preliminary arrangements, and on the 7th of January, he took her to the Registry Office in Chertsey. There, before the Registrar, they went through a marriage ceremony. On the day of their marriage, they stayed together at a public house just outside Chertsey. Subsequently, they moved to some dining rooms at Thornton Heath and stayed there for a week. Later, they went to West Croydon, and after a week, the prisoner left her, explaining that he was going to South Wales for work. They arranged for her to send him some money to follow him.


He was away for a few weeks, and during that time, she wrote to him at an address in South Wales. He returned and stayed with her in South Croydon for three days a fortnight ago. Witness had not seen him since until that day. She had known the prisoner throughout this time, but he had never given her any money.


Prisoner (to witness): Didn’t I tell you on the very first Sunday we were together that I was married? — No.

Did I not go to Garden Cottages and tell your mother about it? — No! When I asked you, you said, “No, I’m not married.”


Ernest Throughgood, a painter, residing at Chertsey, said that he recognised the Prisoner as the man who came up to him in the street at Chertsey on the 7th January and asked him if he would go with him to the Registry Office, and there act as witness to his marriage, as his prisoner’s friend had not turned up. Witness did so

Mr Cox (Magistrate), ‘Did he pay you anything for it?’ ‘Yes a shilling.”

In answer to further question by Mr Cox, the witness said that such a thing as he did – acting as witness to the marriage and signing the register – was a common occurrence. ‘BUT’ he added, amidst much laughter, ‘it ought to be altered’


Prisoner said he would like to call a witness to prove that Florence Beesley knew he was married, as she was introduced to a Mrs Shaw, they talked together about it.

Prisoner was told that the Police would serve notice on the witness to attend at the Assizes.

Prisoner was committed to the Berks Assizes.”



He was tried again in may,





William Basil Fowler, 28, a painter, was indicted for marrying Florence Beesley, at Chertsey, on Jan 7th, his wife, Nellie, being then alive. He pleaded guilty.

Mr Nash Prosecuted. The Prisoner was sentenced to a month’s hard labour.”