Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Reader, I married him……

The Georgian Newspaper Project is run from Bath Record Office by a team of volunteers and they are making an on-line database of information from the Bath Chronicle for the years 1770 – 1800. I have been browsing through the section on marriages, and it makes fascinating reading. I think it shows the art of conveying a world of meaning in just a few words.

For instance, in 1786 Mr Bradford, a surgeon of Frenchay, married Miss Rogers, "an agreeable lady with handsome fortune" while in 1785 John Wiltshire married the "amiable and beautiful" Charlotte Bridge – one wonders if her fortune was handsome, too. Then there's the 23 year old man who married a farmer's widow of 65, and Mr Norris, age 18, who married a 76 year old widow. A Mr Curtis from Guinea is reported to have married "a brisk young widow" - what an image that conjures for me!

Then there are the more touching stories – in 1799 Abraham Ludlow married Miss Gibbs and "every poor family in Westbury, Heywood & Hawkeridge (nearly 2,000 persons) received a liberal donation". Mr John Frampton married Miss Elswood in 1798 – "he courted lady 2 x week for 45 years & walked c. 17,000 miles" and William Smith married Miss Winifred Latham: "He having recovered from a stroke 2½ years previously with her constant, dedicated care."

There are several terse reports: "Robert Lindsay, esq, to Miss Penelope Ford Scriven of Bath at Gretna Green." and "notice of marriage of Rev Mr Edwards of Tilshead to Miss Jaques of Devizes was premature."

In 1770 one poor couple had to go through the whole ceremony again because of a mistake in the bride's Christian name "…being wrongly inserted as Sarah instead of Celia in the licence."

Any one of the above could start me on a whole new book! You can search the database for yourself at http://www.bathnes.gov.uk/BathNES/lifeandleisure/leisure/localarchives/georgian

Finally, my favourite has to be from October 1785:
" Mr Edward Collier, tallow chandler & soap boiler, age c. 50, to Mrs Jones, age 84 (with a considerable fortune), at Norton St Phillip on Saturday. Bride on crutches supported by two helpers to altar."

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