Filed under marriage

Railway Navvies’ Women

This is again from the fine book Railway Navvies by Peter Coleman:     It is surprising that, amidst this squalour, and against all odds, there were respectable women, if unconventional in their habits: “kind neighbours, good nurses, who cooked well and sent well-ordered children off to the mission schools, where there were any, women … Continue reading

Railway Navvies

This book by Terry Coleman shines a light on the private lives of these hard working and hard drinking men, and the – often unfortunate – women who became their partners. These men seem to have had a rather mixed reputation, as I have read of them being romantic characters, in their colourful vests and kerchiefs … Continue reading

Till Death Did they Part

The notion of staying with a partner for life is one that is far from common today but for most of our ancestors it was the norm. They lived in small communities, so had little choice of partner but they knew them well before they got hitched. I have noticed a number of famous couples … Continue reading

Botany Bay Man

My latest favourite book is Paupers & Pig Killers by the Rev William Holland, who comes across as a thoroughly decent chap, with an often  wicked sense of humour and his family, though well off by the standards of many in his parish of Stowey in Somerset, also spread manure on the fields and was … Continue reading

Wife Sells Husband

I have been trawling the British news archives and this might be  a first. In Cumberland Pacquet & Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser of 22 August 1815 they claim a woman sold her husband with a halter round his neck at Dewsbury market. She got oy 4s 6d for him!

Wife Sale

This seemed to be fairly common in British papers of the 1830s and 40s . This is from the Athlone Sentinal of 27 March 1835. “A disgraceful scene of confusion took place on our Market Hill on the morning of Thursday week, in consequence of a fellow of the name of Game offering his wife … Continue reading

Death of a Pauper

This is again from The Life of Silas Told, the sort of gross injustice the Georgian justice system is so infamous, executing a man for stealing a few pennies. That said, the crime wsa so stupid, it is hard to feel sorry for the man, but then, he had clearly reached the end of his … Continue reading

The Duchess Departs

Following on from the previous post, finaly in December 1674 Cosimo di Medici’s wife the Grand Duchess Margaret Louise managed to return to France, to retire to a convent at Montmartre. This is from The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici by Christopher Hibbert: “she saw to it that she did not go … Continue reading

The Duchess and her Cook

Throughout history, women tend to get a pretty bad treatment, but they are not always passive victims. The Medici family, once fabulously rich and successful, actually died out in the mid 18th century, with a surprising number of them living short lives, or, in several cases, just not interested in women, which can be a … Continue reading

Elite Survival

I was browsing through ‘The World We Have Lost’ by Peter Laslett and I stumbled upon a conundrum that he posed. I think it’s because they are brilliant at surviving, and that means managing their resources. Primogeniture is a big factor – concentrates wealth on the first born who can chose the most suitable mate. … Continue reading