John Wilkes Booth was born on this day in 1838, but it was a special date in the Booth household for another reason, too. It was the day Junius Booth and Mary Ann Holmes Booth were married — on John Wilkes’ 13th birthday.
Junius would have married Mary Ann sooner, but he couldn’t.
He had a wife and toddler back in London.
Junius was a top Shakespearean actor in London when he fell for Mary Ann, a flower girl who sold her wares outside Coventry Garden. They eloped to America.
The first Mrs. Booth first learned that her husband had 10 American children when her son grew old enough to sail to America and connect with his dad.
Junius and Mary Ann had shown their American-born children a fake marriage certificate, and they were hoping the issue would never come up.
When Adelaide Delannoy Booth discovered the truth, she came to American and tracked Mary Ann Booth around Baltimore, screaming invectives about her and her illegitimate children.
During those years, John Wilkes reportedly changed from a lovable, friendly boy to a mean bully, who even beat up his younger brother.
Adelaide eventually divorced Junius, leaving him free to marry Mary Ann in 1851. Within a year, Junius contracted a disease on a riverboat, died, and left his new bride a widow.
Mary Ann Holmes Booth
Junius Brutus Booth