Concubinage in Wales

I’ve just discovered this fascinating incident in the wonderful ‘Kilvert’s Diary’ written by a cleric in late 19th century Wales:

Friday 8 April 1870

In the green lane between York and Cefn y Fedwas I came upon Smith of Wemwg hedging. He told me that a child had arrived at Pen-y-worlodd and wanted to know if something cannot be done to separate Stephen Davies and Myra Rees. I said there was no law to prevent people living in concubinage. People are very indignant about this affair and think it a great scandal to the parish, and rightly so.. But what is to be done? The man’s family are mad with him especially Mr Smith of New Barn, but no one has any influence over him. He is infatuated with the girl, whose tongue is so desperate and unscrupulous that everyone is afraid of her. Esther Gore openly accuses her of being ‘a liar, a thief, a whore, and a murderer‘ and offers to swear and prove that Myra has made away with one infant, if not with more.

This is in deepest Wales, so the law may be different there, but it is intriguing that a couple could live openly together despite so much opposition from their neighbours.

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