A Smithfield Bargain

I think this was from a newspaper in about 1815

One of those scenes which occasionally disgrace even Smithfield, took place there about 5 o’clock on Friday evening, namely – a man exposing his wife for sale. Hitherto we have only seen those moving in the lowest classes of society thus degrading themselves, but the present exhibition was attended with some novel circumstances. The parties, buyer and seller, were persons of property; the lady (the object of the sale) young, beautiful and elegantly dressed, was brought to the market in a coach, and exposed to the view of her purchaser, with a silk halter round her shoulders, which were covered with a rich white lace veil. The price demanded for her, in the first instance, was 80g, but that finally agreed was 50g, and a valuable horse upon which the purchaser was mounted. The sale and delivery being complete, the lady with her new lord and master, mounted a handsome curricle which was in waiting for them and drove off, seeming nothing loath to go. The purchaser of the present case is a celebrated horse-dealer in town, and the seller, a grazer of cattle, residing about 6 miles from London.


6 thoughts on “A Smithfield Bargain

  1. I have yet to find a story like this where the woman seemed upset, in fact if you trawl through my posts, there are a few where the former couple part with great sadness, one instance they have a farewell supper. I think most of them are about falling for someone else. It still took an act of parliament to get a divorce back then but a sale is quick and cheap. Everyone wins, for a few minutes embarrassment. Better than a life with someone you don’t love.


  2. I discovered that some ancestors of mine were married bigamously. One of the reasons was that my GG-Grandfather’s first wife had mental health problems and was in and out of an asylum. In the end my GG-grandfather married my GG-grandmother with what appears to have been full knowledge on both sides of the family and the relatives of the first wife. As you say a divorce especially in their level of society was impossible.


  3. Thanks for this. Interesting. I think most people did what needed to be done to get by. If they believed in god they believed that he didn’t want them to suffer, and being in a bad marriage could be utter hell.


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