I have been researching Relief Thurber of Providence, Rhode Island
and his daughter Mary. In researching Mary, I found the following three pieces of information:
- Mary's death record in the Rhode Island Deaths and Burials database listing parents Relief and Phebe Thurber and husband John Wilbone [sic?]
- A marriage record in the Rhode Island Marriages database for John Wilbour and Mary Thurber on Feb 11, 1821, in Providence
- A marriage notice from the Providence Gazette, March 17, 1821, for John Wilbour and Mrs. Polly Thurber, eldest daughter of Relief Thurber.
The third item can easily be reconciled with the other two if there are two different "Relief Thurber"s. However, In the US censuses for 1790, 1800, 1810, 1830, and 1840, there is only one head-of-household in the whole US named "Relief Thurber" (and none in 1820), so it seems likely that any references to children of Relief Thurber are referring to the same family.
It is then hard to avoid concluding that these marriage announcements are for the same marriage. Assuming this to be the case, my question is, why is Mary listed in the Gazette announcement as "Mrs. Thurber"?
She was married to a Job Spencer before, so the "Mrs." is presumably because of this. But in this circumstance, I would typically see the bride listed as "Mrs. Spencer". I read a cryptic passage online that said Job Spencer "removed to North Carolina". I don't know the source, so I will not put this in her bio, but it makes me wonder -- if a man deserted his family in those times, would the woman be allowed to return to her maiden name, even to remarry? Is there precedence for this?
(As to how the Gazette got her first name wrong, Polly isn't completely out of the blue -- Relief's first wife was named Polly, and he married Mary's mother Phebe after Polly died. Perhaps Polly is Mary's middle name.)