Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

The Pleasures and Pains of Marriage

2-5 August 1701
This day is publish’d,
The Pleasures of a Single Life, or the Miseries of Matrimony. Occasionally writ upon the many divorces granted by Parliament. Sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, 1701. [Post Boy]

27-30 September 1701
The Pleasures of Matrimony; intermix’d with variety of Merry and Delightful Stories: Containing the Charms and Contentments of Wooing and Wedlock, in all its Enjoyments, Recreations and Divertisements. Price 1s. Sold by H. Rhodes, at the Star the Corner of Bride-lane in Fleetstreet. [Flying Post]

18-21 October 1701
The Female Advocate: Or, A Plea for the Just Liberty of the Tender Sex, and particularly of Married Women. Being Reflections on a late Rude and Disingenious Discourse, delivered by Mr. John Sprint, in a Sermon at a Wedding, May 11. at Sherbourn in Dorsetshire, 1699. By a Lady of Quality. Price 6d. Sold by Andr. Bell, at the Cross-Keys and Bible in Cornhill, near Stocks-Market. [The Flying Post]

22-24 May 1707
Whereas a Definitive Sentence of Divorce was on the 19th of May, 1707, read and promulgated by the Judge of the Consistory Court of London, against Sarah Vallance, Wife of Francis Vallance, of the Parish of St. Martins in the Fields in the County of Middlesex, at the suit of the said Francis Vallance, for the Crime of Adultery, &c. Therefore that no Person may be imposed upon, This is to give notice to all Persons whatever, that they may not for the future lend the said Sarah Vallance any Money, or trust her with any Goods or Effects whatsoever upon his Account, he the said Francis Vallance not being obliged to pay any Debt or Debts that shall be for the future contracted by her. [The Post Man]

Saturday 15 March 1718   On Tuesday last, Hugh alias John Coleman, alias John Davis, alias Hugh Roberts, who was convicted last Sessions of polygamy, and is reported to have marry'd no less than fourteen cook-maids, died in Newgate, to the great joy (as we hear) of some of the deluded. (Weekly Journal, or, British Gazetteer)

2 August 1718   Yesterday was se’nnight an Irishman, who stiles himself Count Cahoon, and some years ago was tried and convicted at the Sessions-house in the Old Bailey, for having several wives, was seized at the Green at Hampstead, as he was playing at a game called back gammon, with an escape warrant, for a debt of 500l. and carry’d to Newgate. (Weekly Journal, or, Saturday’s-Post)

14 January 1720   On Monday last a sailor, who had been a considerable time at sea, and but newly come home, having a quarrel with his wife, to be revenged of her, with his own hands, divested himself of the only means left him to make up the dispute between them, and sent immediately the produce of his rashness to a surgeon in the neighbourhood, who, much to the mortification of the tarpauliln's spouse, has placed them in a viol [i.e. phial, bottle] in his window, for the inspection and diversion of the curious. (London Journal)

22 April 1721   On Monday night last a certain person, living in a court within a few yards of the Ship Tavern, being an ignorant trader, sold his precious wife for so small a value as half a crown, after she had been for some years the most useful piece of houshold stuff belonging to his family; and accordingly the good woman made no difficulty to march off with her new master, as his own proper goods. (Applebee's Original Weekly Journal)

20 March 1725   Monday night about 11 a-clock, one Vincent Davis, a butcher in Turnmill-street, coming home in a very ill humour, took occasion to renew a quarrel with his wife that had begun on Sunday night; the woman had been so ill us’d that she set up the night before, and upon the repetition of some provocations she told him that she would never bed with him again, No more you shant you Bitch you, says the brute, and at the same time stabb’d her under the left pap with a new knife that he had bought the same evening; the poor woman runs into the street, and he after her with a bull’s pizzle, till she running into a tobacconist’s shop, drop’d down and dy’d in a very small time. Being ask’d why he had been so barbarous, he reply’d, He had done it for his own Fancy; being told that he was certainly a dead man, and advis’d to thik of his soul, the reprobate answer’d, Damn mu soul, but I desire I may not be anatomiz’d: He was presently seiz’d, carry’d before a Justice, and committed to Newgate. It is reported, that this is not the first time he had attempted to murder her. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

7 August 1725   York, July 31. There was a remarkable trial last Week at our Assizes, between some dealers in the flesh; the occasion of it thus: One butcher having had great familiarity with the wife of another, gave her the foul disease; she applies to a doctor for medicines for ’em both, who gave her such as cur’d ’em, but how to get paid for it seemed more difficult, the woman’s husband being already a prisoner, and the other denying he had any thing of him. The doctor who was as cunning in this matter, as skilfull in his business, gets the good dame on his side, and sues the galant for the whole. It appeared upon her evidence, that he took part of the medicines, and was cur’d; and tho’ she took the rest, they were all for him, he having before, and since, had the use of her body for nine years; so the jury gave it for the doctor, and the butcher is to pay the bill of fare with costs. [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

4 September 1725   Mr. Cockerell, a Gentleman of Gloucester City, worth 1400l. per annum, having lately marry’d one Mrs. Abigail Cole, who was set up for a West-India fortune, possess’d of a plantation in Berbadoes worth 100l. per annum, and other fine things, being dress’d and deck’d in a manner answerable thereto; but proving to be only a servant maid without any fortune at all, he indicted Mrs. Gregory, sen. and Mrs. Gregory, jun. for a conspiracy in perswading and inducing him, &c. to marry her, the same was try’d on Monday at the Old Baily, and after hearing council learned in the law on both sides, the jury without going out of court acquitted them both. [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

2 July 1726
Matrimony was designed, as its [sic] generally allowed, as a relief to mankind in their youthful days, to refresh and refrigerate both sexes in the warmest season of life, improve their mutual happiness, and divide their common burdens; as also to propagate their species, and multiply mankind.
     Notwithstand this design, such is the degeneracy of this age, improv’d in vice by the custom and authority of wicked examples, produced in a succession of several ages; such is this age, I say, that this wise institution is very viciously apply’d, and the purpose of it so intirely perverted, that it very much amazes me sometimes, when I consider the circumstances now before us, to think such good purposes should be so grosly [sic] prostituted.
     It is often seen, that many matrimonial matches have no other consideration than money, and when they are effected, a morose husband and a wanton wife are plagues to themselves, and grievance to all about them. In persons whose lots are assigned in low life, we see marriages on one day, and mournings on the next: They marry without thought, unite without love, then repent of their bargain, and live miserably all their lives after.
     Equal years, and reciprocal affection, are agreed to be a good foundation for a happy married life: I cannot see how such a wedlock can be unfortunate, without the principles of the parties, or one of them, are perverted. Those therefore we wou’d choose, if we marry with wit in our heads, and tho’ this is said to be impossible, by those who marry without any, and others who jeer ’em on that occasion, I think it very practicable if people would but so do.
     Yet it is very certain and common, that unequal years, and very little affection, very often meet together, according as temptations offer, and a few mercenary considerations concur. We often see Summer and Winter in the nuptial sheet, when the latter ought to make preparations for a winding-sheet, as a garment he must very shortly wear. We likewise see sometimes a rich widow and a young boy, tho’ the one might be imagined grandmother to the other, yet hopefully yoked: Hopefully I may truly say, by punning upon the word, for those hopes must be wretched ones that are form’d in such forlorn circumstances, and like that distressed hope which was found in Pandora’s Box, among all her multitude of mischiefs, and the infinite evils lodg’d therein.
     But worse than all this, and more unaccountable, is a blessed bargain that was lately struck up between two ancient fools, of the parish of St. Ann’s, Westminster, of my acquaintance, famous for their uncommon ugliness, ill-temper, and very great antiquity: The husband was aged fourscore and four, ten days after his wedding-day, and accordingly observed it with much ceremony; he had buried four wives, and this, the fifth, was an ancient virgin, who own’d that she had been a maid, when she married, sixty seven years, three months, and a week.

These two, loving couple, being provident people, expecting the one should out-live the other, and that a numerous posterity would be left behind, which they should beget in this their marriage state, did, to the intent that the wife might live comfortable in her widow-hood, and the children be preferred in the world after her death, enter into an agreement, and by marriage articles the husband did settle a certain parcel of land, with a messuage, and tenement situate thereon, of the yearly rent of thirty pounds, in trust to certain persons, to the use of his wife after his death, and after her decease with limitation, to the issue of her body, lawfully to be begotten, and to their heirs for ever. These ancient amorous people, live as if they dwelt in Antidiluvian days, when boys and girls were three and fourscore years of age; they’re as blith as the day, and as buxom as ever you can imagine; when they smile they show their wrinkles to very good advantage, and being very merry laugh often at each other, demonstrating they have never a tooth in their several heads: In short, to the wonder of the world, whose admiration they were for ill-temper when single, they are now the envy of mankind for their good humour in a married life, the husband adoring his bride for her shrivelled complexion, and the wife contemplating the beauties of her old-fashion’d spouse, and fallling in love with his grey hairs. . . . [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

27 August 1726   William Gardham and Mary Langhorne, that were taken [in bed together] at an inn in this city, and after examination were committed to Newgate, the former on suspicion of poisoning his wife, and the latter of poisoning her husband, were try’d at York the last Assizes, and both acquitted; thereupon they were immediately married. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

10 September 1726   Gloucester, August 27. They write from Bath, That last week a journeyman baker, of that place, had the good fortune to be married to a Gentlewoman near that city, worth 3 or 400l. per annum; which was brought about in the following manner: The young baker having a sweet-heart at Bristol, that had broke her promise of marriage to him, he went to see his sister, (who waited upon the Gentlewoman before-mentioned) and told her, in very moving words, the unkind usage he had met with from his mistress. The Gentlewoman, who had been a widow about 6 months, over-hearing his complaint, took compassion of him, and sent for him, and advised him not to lay his loss to heart; and appointing him to meet her the next day, she married him herself: And, we hear, is so fond of her choice, that she is wholly devoted to the will of her new bridegroom. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

24 September 1726
Whereas Jane, the wife Of George Hunt, in Mulberry-Court, in White Cross-Alley near Middle Fields, in the Parish of St. Leonard Shoreditch, in the County of Middlesex, being a fresh colour’d woman, with several moles in her face, hath made an elopement from her said husband with a considerable sum of money, and likewise several goods of value, taken in as pawns, for money lent. If any person will give notice where she is, shall have a sufficient reward, or if she will return to her husband, bringing the effects she carry’d away, she shall be kindly receiv’d.
     Sept. 23. 1726   GEORGE HUNT.
   [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

15 January 1730   Saturday, Jan. 10   Last week a young couple were married at Dover. The bride seemed, during the ceremony, to be under some extraordinary uneasiness; and after the same was over, and she returned to her own house, she was brought to bed of a girl: So the Bride-men and Bride-maids stood Godfather and Godmother; and the Curate earned double fees from very unexpected occasions. [Grub-street Journal]

5 March 1730   Yesterday, at the sittings at Guildhall in the Court of King’s-Bench, came on a tryal between Miss Holt, of Hackney, plaintiff, and Knox Ward, Esq; defendant, about the latter’s promising to marry her, after a long courtship, but afterwards marrying another. The contract being proved by letters, under his hand, the jury brought in a verdict for Mrs. Holt of 2000l. [Grub-street Journal]

27 June 1730   On Sunday night a milk-woman at Hoxton having some words with her husband, immediately went out; the husband not thinking it worth his while to stop her, let her go; but she absenting herself for two days, he thought she had eloped, as she had done before, and so intended to cry her down by advertising her in the publick papers; but to his greater joy than surprize, found her hanging in a hovel at some distance from the house, which stop’d his proceedings, and saved the expence. (London Journal)

6 August 1730   The Clergymen who perform marriages within the rules of the Fleet prison, are under prosecution at the suit of the Crown, for not giving their certificates upon stamp’d paper, pursuant to the statute in that case made and provided. [Grub-street Journal]

Thursday, 23 March 1732   Monday, March 20. Will. Ragley (late an eminent Smith at Gravesend. D J.) was found guilty, at the Assizes at Rochester, of the murder of his wife. It appear’d, that in December last he came home, and bid her make his bed; upon which she made answer, that she would not make it for him, nor his dog of a boy, and call’d him sodomitical dog: on which he took a gun loaded with shot, (with hob nails and bits of iron. DJ.) and shot her in the breast, of which wound she languished for a week, and died. P. He was ordered for execution. DJ. (Grub-street Journal)

13 April 1732   A woman intending to be married at the Fleet, and going last tuesday into an alehouse with her bridegroom, in order to send for a minister, accidentally met the husband there smoaking his pipe, to whom she had been married upwards of 18 years, not having seen him for these 7 years past; both were over-joy’d to see each other, but the intended husband march’d off in the utmost surprize and confusion. S J.
         Here is certainly some mistake of my Brother:
         They could not be so over-joy’d to see each other.
         They might all be surpriz’d, and think it delusion:
         But the
husband and wife were most in confusion. (Grub-street Journal)

20 April 1732   Wednesday, April 19. At last Derby Assizes were condemned, and since executed, JOHN Hewet and Rosamond Olerenshaw, for poisoning Hannah the wife of JOHN Hewet; when under condemnation, they confess’d the fact, and charg’d another as a principal in the said murder, at whose house the unfortunate woman was poison’d: Olerenshaw was servant to the person they charg;d, who often had criminal conversation with Hewet, which occasion’d such differences betwixt them and the wife of Hewet, that at last ended in the death of three of them. The fourth is since committed to prison on suspicion of murder and felony; and at the next Assizes it is expected such a scene of villainy, debauchery and murder will be brought to light as will be shocking even to the present age: for the condemn’d woman discover’d all the intrigues of Hewet; so that a great many persons with whom she kept a wicked correspondence, have been examined, and much wickedness discover’d; particularly the bones of a child of about seven months growth, was found, having been privately buried in the garden belonging to the person taken up. DP. (Grub-street Journal)

6 July 1732   Wednesday, July 5. On Monday last a cause was try’d at Doctors-Commons, concerning a marriage pretended to be solemnized at an alehouse, between Mr. Luff, a brewer at Westminster, and a woman with whom he was intimate; although a Fleet clergyman swore he marry’d them, and a woman depos’d she was present, yet upon circumstances, and considering the little credit given at law to Fleet marriages, the same, upon a full and long hearing, was set aside by the Judge, as several have been before. DP. (Grub-street Journal)

20 July 1732   Tuesday, July 18. On saturday last a Fleet Parson was convicted before Sir Ric. Brocas, of 43 oaths (on the information of a plyer for weddings there) for which a warrant was granted to levy 4 l. 67 s. on the goods of the said parson; but upon application to his Worship he was pleased to remit 1 s. per oath; upon which the plyer swore he would swear no more against any man upon the like occasion, finding he could get nothing by it. SJ. – This was hard upon the parson, and the plyer: upon the former, to make his wit and politeness penal; upon the latter, to make him swear for nothing. (Grub-street Journal)

22-24 February 1744   We hear from Langham, near Colchester in Essex, that a woman of that place had in a fit of jealousy entirely disabled her husband, with a razor, from committing again the fact she suspected him guilty of, as he was asleep in bed, and was committed for it to Chelmsford Goal; surgeons attended the man, but there was no hopes of his recovery. This woman had made an attempt to commit this act before, but was prevented. (The Penny London Morning Advertiser)




(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "The Pleasures and Pains of Marriage", 18 November 2001, updated 4 April 2007 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/marriage.htm>

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