There are lots of strange stories in my bulging file on wife selling, but this is one that seems to disprove any notions that those involved were ignorant or brutes.This is from The Stockton Mercury, July 1855:
The antiquated and disgraceful farce of selling a wife has taken place at Thirsk within past few days. A blooming young woman, the wife of Mr W. Marshall, of Wombleton, near Kirby-Mooreside, was led in a halter to the cross, and there sold for 2s 6d, to a knight of Crispin. Mr Marshall was 64 years of age when he was married, and Mrs Marshall only 19. They, however, continued to live happily together for 10 years, but he, finding that those infirmities so natural to old age were readily increasing, it was agreed between them that the knot which had joined them in wedlock for so long a period should be severed.
The age gap suggests the woman may have been a gold digger, or perhaps the man’s servant. There is nothing to indicate their incomes or status, so this is a hard call. But they must have both been reasonably comfortable, as this is so civilised. No children are mentioned, as is common in many sales, so this seems to have been a marriage that was largely about companionship.