What Constitutes a Regency Betrothal

Regency Bethrothal: "Off for the Honeymoon" by Frederick Morgan
“Off for the Honeymoon” by Frederick Morgan, Courtesy of Wikipedia

During Regency times, people generally married for love. Arranged marriages usually did not occur unless you were royalty. Apparently, however, sometimes Regency people found to their surprise they were engaged. This happened because of mistakes or misunderstanding, but such mistakes or misunderstandings could be devastating or even ruinous to an innocent party. One nineteenth-century monthly periodical devoted to literature, art, and religion decided to write about betrothals. They presented the article in their 15 November 1836 issue. The article expressed five points that the writer claimed showed what constituted and what did not constitute a Regency betrothal.

Here are the five points provided almost verbatim: Continue reading

Accused Glasgow Murderess Known as Madeleine Smith From the 1850s

Accused Glasgow Murderess Known as Madeleine Smith: Madeleine Smith
Madeleine Smith. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The accused Glasgow murderess known as Madeleine Smith was alleged to have killed Frenchman Pierre Emile L’Angelier (or Emile L’Angelier) in 1857. L’Angelier originally came from the Channel Islands, an archipelago in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. The two began a secret love affair in 1855 that involved hundreds of love letters and clandestine meetings at her bedroom window. One of these clandestine meetings resulted in Madeleine losing her virginity to L’Angelier.

L’Angelier had left the Channel Islands to seek his fortune in Scotland in 1851. When he first arrived in Scotland, he lived in grinding poverty and depended on the charity of inn keepers. Eventually, he began working as a clerk at a warehouse and then began assisting a gardener as an apprentice for moderate wages. By steadiness and assiduity, he improved his lot over time. Continue reading

Qualifications for A Georgian Wife or Husband

Georgian wife
Crossing a Dirty Street by James Gillray, Courtesy of Museum of London

Marriage was something almost every Georgian man and woman expected but they also wanted the “perfect” mate to marry. This caused one author to write, “Let those women who seek a perfect husband, or those men who desire a perfect wife, be told by the Christian to look to some other quarter; let them indeed; be directed to some other planet than that on which we dwell.”

One magazine thought that perhaps listing the “mental and personal qualifications” for a wife, written by a single gentleman, and those necessary for a husband, written from the perspective of a single lady, might produce the perfect mate for each. Here are those qualifications provided verbatim: Continue reading

School of Love: Dorimon and Alithea


In 1773 answers for the love lorn could be found in an eighteen century magazine. The magazine had the School of Love providing the advice, and among those who had concerns about their love life was an eighteenth century married woman named Charlotte. Charlotte posed the following question to the School of Love:

“My husband and I have lived happily for seven years. Of late his affections have begun to wander from me: I do not know upon what account, but I fear there is some other woman behind the screen. — In any case, what am I to do?” Continue reading

Humorous Clauses Proposed for The Marriage Act of 1753

Thomas Rowlandson's Version of the Bristol Elopement, Marriage Act of 1753
Thomas Rowlandson’s Version of the Bristol Elopement, Courtesy of Wikipedia

The Marriage Act of 1753 was enacted to require a formal ceremony of marriage because clandestine marriages achieved by crossing over the Scottish border caused disputes as to their validity. One newspaper proposed some humorous clauses be added to the Marriage Act and here they are in their entirety.

  • When two young thoughtless fools, having no visible way to maintain themselves, nor any thing to begin the world with, resolve to marry and be miserable; let it be deemed PETTY LARCENY.
  • If a younger brother marries an old woman purely for the sake of maintenance, let it be called SELF-PRESERVATION. Continue reading

Greenwich Hoax and a Love Gone Wrong

love gone wrong
Greater London, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Joseph Thornton, son of a respectable tradesman, was charged with fraud all because of a hoax and a love gone wrong. The story begins with another young man named Joseph Dale. He received an anonymous but elegantly written letter in a female hand signed with the initials E.B. Dale mentioned the letter to Thornton because they were friends and remarked that E.B. had confessed her ardent attachment towards him. She had also asked him to reply. As chance would have it, Thornton told Dale that he knew E.B. stating:

“I know the family well; I am going to tea with them; I’ll manage it, my boy.” Continue reading

Courtship and A Love Gone Wrong

Lord Stafford, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Lord Stafford, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Christiana Wighton, a young girl, “verging on womanhood,” was the daughter of John Wighton, and he was head gardener to Henry Stafford-Jerningham, 9th Baron Stafford. One January evening in 1863, between nine and ten o’clock in the morning, Christiana and her younger brother James, a lad of fourteen, were proceeding home. They were some distance from their cottage, which was located in Costessy Park, when Christiana was accosted by a young man named Walston Sadler (or Saddler).

Sadler had been working for John Wighton, Christiana’s father, for about three years. During that time, Sadler had attempted to gain Christiana’s affections whenever he found himself in the company of her and her father. Sadler’s attempts were unsuccessful, possibly because it was reported he made a snuffling noise through his nose when speaking. Whatever the reason for Christiana’s disinterest, when Sadler saw Christiana without her father,  he decided this was his chance and implored her to have a private conversation with him in the park. Continue reading

Lord and Lady Colin Campbell’s Contentious Divorce

Lord and Lady Colin Campbell: Lord Colin Campbell
Lord Colin Campbell, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Divorce was practically impossible in England until the passage of the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857. One man who decided to take advantage of the Act was Lord Colin Campbell, a Scottish Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1878 to 1885. He had become engaged to Gertrude Elizabeth Blood, daughter of the Irish landowner Edmund Maghlin Blood, in September 1880. About a month later, Campbell “underwent an operation for a painful disease from which he was suffering.” They married in July of 1881, but shortly before their marriage, Campbell intimated to his wife Gertrude that they would have to occupy separate apartments for a time. However, he never informed her that the reason why was because he was suffering from complications related to venereal disease. Continue reading

Gretna Green – The Place for Elopements

Gretna Green
The Elopement by John Collett, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In 1753 the “Marriage Act in Churches,” popularly known as Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, passed in England. It suppressed clandestine marriages by requiring English and Welsh couples to marry in a church and to be 21 or older to marry without parental consent. This resulted in clandestine marriages being conducted in Scotland where the requirements for marriage were different. Thus, Gretna Green became the notable spot for marriages by eloping couples because it was just over the border. Continue reading

Bristol Elopement of Clementina Clerke and Richard Vining Perry

Bristol elopement of Clementina Clerke and Richard Vining Perry
Thomas Rowlandson’s Version of the Bristol Elopement, Courtesy of Wikipedia

One of the more well-known elopements of the 1790s involved a precocious 14-year-old girl named Clementina Clerke and a handsome Bristol surgeon-apothecary Richard Vining Perry. Clerke who was described as “modest, amiable … obliging, timid and not forward,” eloped from a boarding school in Bristol operated by the Mills sisters (Selina and Mary). Clerke was the niece of George Ogilvie of Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Ogilvie “made … [his] fortune in the West Indies, and left it to … [Clerke], whom her friends, after the fashion of the day, sent from her native place to an English boarding-school, to finish her education!

It was while Clerke was attending boarding school and during one of Clerke’s regular promenades with her fellow classmates, that she and Perry claimed to have first seen each other. The pair supposedly never spoke, but Perry bowed twice to Clerke and from these small interactions  the pair “saw and mutually affected each other by the sweet, but indiscribable [sic] passion of love.” Continue reading