Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

Remarkable Unions

9-11 February 1699
The other day a female pawn-broker, who lives not far from the Fleet-Ditch, wanting an husband, apply'd her self to a cunning-man near St Pauls, and after she had open'd her CASE gave the Conjuring Doctor two guinea's, and the person pitch'd on was one Sir W––m A–– of about 80 years of age; who, not coming to court her according to expectation, she arrested the fortune-teller for her two guinea's, who has put in bail, and Counsel, learned in the law, are retain'd on both sides, to argue the premises most streneously in Westminster Hall. (The Post Boy)

17 September 1726   Ashby de la Zouch, (in Leicestershire) Sept. 5. We had a wedding last week at our church which occason’d no small diversion in these parts, viz. Little John, a pensioner of Blaffarby Parish was married to Little Nan, a pensioner of Ashby Parish; the former was above 90 years of age and the latter near as old, but in stature both together could measure but two yards, i.e. three foot apiece: The Earl of Huntingdon and several persons of distinction in company with his Lordship had the curiosity to view the bridegroom and bride a few days after the nuptials, and were pleased to give them money: ’Tis reckoned a contrivance of some waggish officers of Ashby Parish, to get rid of their female pensioner; for Little John was order’d to carry home his wife to his own parish soon after. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

25 May 1732   Ruthyn in Denbighshire, May 15. Last week, within 2 miles of this town, a man about 70 years of age, was married to a girl about 17; and what is more remarkable, when the bridegroom on the wedding day went to ask blessing of the bride’s father, mother, and grandmother, it was observed, that he was not only older than the said father and mother, but some years older than the grandmother. SJ. (Grub-street Journal)

29 July 1731
On sunday a stripling of about 13 or 14 years of age, apprentice to an apothecary in Leadenhall street, and a woman about 30, said to be a woman of the town, went to be married in the Fleet. The first clergyman they went to, refus'd; but going to another, not altogether so scrupulous, got their business done, and were married. — It is my opinion, that if their business had been done first, they would never have been married. (Grub-street Journal)

31 August 1732   We have an account from Preston in Lancashire, that a merry wedding was celebrated there a few days since, between two beggars, whose ages made 1680 together; they were usher’d from Church to Walton, about a mile from that place, by about 30 of the same fraternity, most with crutches; among them were seven bag-pipers, and one who play’d on a bladder-marine. A dinner was provided for the guests of roast mutton, with 30 pound of potatoes and a large salmon, 30 pounds of cheese, and 8 pounds of butter for the 2d course, with bread in

proportion, and a gallon strong beer each; and one hundred yards of ribbon were distributed in favours: the whole was carried on with a great deal of mirth and jollity, the cirpples throwing away their crutches and dancing, ’till the beer got into their heads, when they went to fighting, but parted without further loss of limbs. The marriage was consummated in a barn, by the side of an hay-mow, which in the night fell on the new-married couple, who calling out for assistance, a person that was passing by, went in and removed the hay, and took them out naked and almost smother’d. (Daily Journal)

21 December 1734
Gloucester, Dec. 14. We are credibly inform’d, that a remarkable wedding happen’d, on the 16th past, in the Parish of Cainham near Ludlow, between one William Houghton, a boy about nine years of age (and also an ideot, but heir to 15 or 16 l. per ann.) and the daughter of John Floyde, of the same parish, a girl about 16, but with little or no portion. It seems the said Floyde was left trustee to the boy and his sister (who is marry’d) and being apprehensive that he should be called to account, perswaded his daughter to marry the said boy, in order to prevent an enquiry into the discharge of his trust: He likewise dress’d up his daughter in rags, that it might not be known who she was, when the matrimonial service was performed. But to his great mortification, the secret is discovered, and the said Floyde, as we hear, summon’d to Ludlow-Court, to give an account how faithfully he has executed his office. (The Weekly Oracle: or, Universal Library)

27 March 1735
The person near St. Clement’s Church in the Strand, who a few days since sold his wife to a rolling-press printer, for two notes of five guineas each, and had her cry’d down by the Common Cryer, hath, at his wife’s desire, and the intreaty of the printer, (after a week’s cohabitation) taken her home again, to the great satisfaction of all three. The purchaser paid his first note of five guineas, with a great deal of readiness, when he delivered her back, and expressed an uncommon joy that he had parted with his bargain. (The Old Whig)

16 February 1737
Bristol, Feb. 12. Last Thursday one Sarah Elliot was committed to Newgate, for endeavouring to extort money from one Richard Cornwall, a Christian Negro, servant to Captain Day, in College Green, under pretence that she had a child by him, and which was then alive at Berkley, in Gloucestershire; the Black insisted on seeing the child before he would condescend to her demand, and told her, that if ’twas his child, he shou’d know by the colour of the skin. The woman, artfully to deceive the fellow, procured a borrowed child, with its skin smutted over; but he calling for a web napkin, and rubbing the child’s face, found it of a fair complexion, quite different to his species. (Daily Gazetteer)

(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, "Remarkable Unions", 15 December 2003, enlarged 3 Jan., 30 Jan., 31 Jan. 2006 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/unions.htm>

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