The tale of Elizabeth Smith (and her second husband’s first wife’s first husband), 1766

Sometimes, when trawling through historical records, a researcher comes across personal stories that seem destined for Hollywood. Take this dramatic tale of romance triumphing against all the odds, featuring sexually-charged teenage servants, illegimate pregnancy, forced separation, triple bigamy, a few deaths, and a gouty clergyman in a sedan chair. All in that world-renowned town of passion and enchantment... Bicester. Before... Continue Reading →

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A turbulent year in the life of an c18th marriage

And so, as we draw towards the end of the year, it seems only fitting to mark the occasion with a peek at a year in the life of a decidedly unsuccessful Georgian marriage. After marrying on New Year's Day, our happy couple spend the next twelve months swinging wildly from love to loathing (probably... Continue Reading →

The Hasty Marriage, 1772

An ill-begotten child and an impudent wife. Poor old Dick. - From The Covent Garden Magazine, 1772 *** "The HASTY MARRIAGE. Scarce had five months expir'd, since Dick did wed, When lo! his fruitful wife was brought to bed; How now, cry'd Dick – this is too soon, my Kate; No, Dick, said she, you married... Continue Reading →

Sex & The c17th City

The tendency of women to gossip about their sex lives with their friends has set men a-fretting for centuries. Far from being a phenomenon of the 'Sex & the City' era, women of the seventeenth century were just as likely to have intimate discussions about their man's skills and equipment, past experiences, how to keep... Continue Reading →

Plan your own broom-stick marriage

Weddings today seem such a stressful, complicated affair. If you have cast off the misery of a single life and plunged into all the misery of someone in pursuit of the perfect day, why not follow this eighteenth-century model of the Broomstick Marriage? a) Get married with a number of other couples, ensuring reduced expense... Continue Reading →

How to Elope in Style, 1793

Detail from 'The Elopement' (1828) In the late eighteenth century, if you were under the age of 21 then you were generally considered too young to be trusted with your own heart. The Marriage Act of 1753 had decreed that no wedding conducted on English soil would be considered valid unless there was a formal church... Continue Reading →

The 70-Year-Old Virgin, 1738

To Georgian Edinburgh, where in the summer of 1738 an almost-centenarian wed a nervous "undefiled" lady of about seventy. My interest was caught by the idea that her primary reason for pursuing marriage at such an advanced age was a fear of the "old maid's curse" – presumably the already well-established saying that old maids... Continue Reading →

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