Sunday, February 28, 2016

1737 A broken-hearted, vindictive, & humiliated John Wesley 1703-1791 flees colonial Georgia


Today is a good day to reflect on John Wesley's youthful journey to the American colonies.  On February 28, 1784, an elderly John Wesley (1703–1791) officially chartered the 1st Methodist Church in the United States. Despite the fact that he was an ardent Tory & still an Anglican, Wesley saw the need to provide church structure for his followers, after the Anglican Church abandoned its American believers during the American Revolution. (See note below)


Young John Wesley (1703–1791) Preaching by British artist John Russell 1745-1806

A 32-year-old John Wesley 1st brought his evangelical brand of methodical Anglicanism to James Oglethorpe's (1696-1785) colonial Georgia from 1735 to 1737 with his brother, Charles Wesley (1707–1788). Charles & John traveled to Georgia with Oglethorpe on his 2nd voyage to the colony. John Wesley's 1st venture onto American soil was not a great success. Young John Wesley became embroiled a failed love affair & was unable to win adherents to his religious practices. 

Searching for his own religious experience John Wesley found a complicated romantic experience instead.  He fell in love with Sophia Hopkey, the niece of Savannah's chief magistrate Thomas Causton.  Wesley met Miss Hopkey on the 4-month-long sail to Georgia. While traveling on the ship, Sophia’s mother employed Wesley to teach her daughter French. After arriving in Savannah, their passion grew. Sophia was confident, that Wesley’s intentions were honorable & would lead to matrimony. 

However, upon arriving in Georgia, Wesley also became acquainted with the German Moravians, who hoped to establish a settlement in the colony. (The alliance later led Wesley to a London Moravian gathering, where Wesley felt he finally personally experienced God’s grace, which he described as an "infilling of the Holy Spirit.") And so, Wesley sought the advice of Moravian Bishop Spangenberg & who advised the young lover to avoid contact with female admirers. Wesley took his mentor's admonishment & without any explanation to Sophia, he abruptly stopped seeing her.  She soon met someone else.  This caused Wesley great pain, & he lashed out at her, publicly rebuking her for various sins.

On March 12, 1737, Sophia Hopkey married William Williamson, a clerk in her uncle’s Thomas Causton's store. The couple ran away to South Carolina & were married in Spurysburg, which was 22 miles up river away from the admonishments of John Wesley. Her new husband took Wesley to court for his attacks on his new bride. Local gossips shredded the reputation of John Wesley. Many believed that Wesley had secured a promise from Sophia Hopkey Williamson to never marry another, but that he had not asked for her hand in marriage. After her marriage, Wesley seemed to be inconsolable & vindictive.  

Wesley acerbated the situation on August 7, 1737, when he refused to give Sophia Hopkey Williamson the sacrament of holy communion in the church. The following day, a warrant was issued against Wesley by Williamson & his bride, Sophia. The complaint was for defaming Sophia by refusing to administer to her the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, in a public congregation without due cause. Williamson sued for 1,000 pounds of sterling in damages for the public defamation of his wife’s character. Wesley was brought before the bailiff & the recorder, but he refused to acknowledge the power of the civil courts over him, because he claimed his actions were an ecclesiastical matter. Nonetheless, he was requested to appear before the next court held in Savannah.

Causton was the local political boss & chief magistrate for Savannah. Being the 1st magistrate of Savannah, he prospered in his position jeopardizing Ogelthorpe’s long-distance authority as governor.  Ogelthorpe had appointed Wesley as his private secretary (and spy) who would report to him of any misdoings in the colony. John Wesley remained loyal to London's Oglethorpe instead of the local Causton.

However, Causton did prove corrupt in his dealings with the Moravians. The Moravians provided work in Savannah in trade for their supplies. Causton applied the credit for their work to his personal plantation & did not credit their account with the Savannah Trustees. Wesley  reported the misappropriation of credit to the wrong account to Ogelthorpe. Wesley & the Moravians were friends & he did not want them to be forced to leave the colony. Causton declared that the Moravians would not bear arms to fight against the Spanish & that gave him the right to do what he did.  The evidence against Causton was unmistakable in proving his misuse of  the colony’s money. He was removed from the office of chief magistrate. Causton was convinced that Wesley was the instigator of his troubles. 

Causton began to declare, that the reason Wesley had repelled his niece was out of revenge, because she had declined his proposal of marriage. Sophia Hopkey Williamson signed an affidavit that Wesley had proposed numerous times & that she had always refused him. Causton demanded a duel. Wesley refused to fight Causton & instead wrote a letter to Sophia Hopkey Williamson explaining his actions.

In his defensive letter, Wesley noted that those intending to take Holy Communion needed to inform the Curate at least the day before. Sophia Hopkey Williamson had not done this. Also Wesley advised her that in order to partake at the Lord’s table when one has done wrong, one must openly repent. Wesley also noted that since her marriage in March, she had not attended church & his refusal to let her take communion took place months later in August.  The letter was not enough for the Williamsons or for Causton.

On August 22, 1737, the trial of John Wesley began before a jury secured by Causton. The trial ended with a mistrial. Twelve of the jurors refused to sign the bill of indictment, their reasons were that the counts were false or conflicting with the law. Wesley appeared in court several days in September, but Mr. Williamson was out of town.


1789  John Wesley (1703–1791),  by British artist George Romney 1734-1802

Wesley never was able to establish good relations with the people of Savannah who reflected the diversity of Georgia’s early settlers including Anglicans, Dissenters, Highland Scots, French Hugenots, Spanish (Italian) Jews & French Swiss. In addition to his duties as a minister at Savannah, John had hoped to perform missionary work among the Creek & Cherokee of the region. He never was an effective missionary & wrote in his journal, “I came to convert the Indians, but, oh, who will convert me?”

On November 3, 1737, Wesley appeared in court again to defend his vindictive administrative assault on his former love. On November 24, Wesley publicly advertised his intentions of returning to England. Two days later Williamson published a warning, that he had a cause of 1,000 pounds against Wesley. The warning stated if anyone tried to assist the departure of Wesley, he would prosecute them as well.  Convinced that he would not receive a fair trial, John left the colony of Georgia on December 2, 1737, noting in his journal, “about eight o’clock, the tide then serving, I shook off the dust of my feet and left Georgia, after having preached the gospel there (not as I ought, but as I was able).” 


Note:   Organized Methodism in America actually grew as a lay movement. Early non-clergy leaders included Robert Strawbridge, a farmer c 1760 in Maryland & Virginia; Philip Embury & his cousin, Barbara Heck, in New York in 1766: plus Captain Thomas Webb, in Philadelphia in 1767. To strengthen the Methodist work in the colonies, John Wesley sent 2 of his lay preachers, Richard Boardman & Joseph Pilmore, to America in 1769.

See John Wesley and Savannah by Kathy W. Ross and Rosemary Stacy here   


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Queen Ann Stuart February, 1665- July, 1714 - Ruler of Early Virginia Colony


Queen Anne, when Princess of Denmark - Willem Wissing and Jan van der Vaardt.

"Anne Stuart was an unlikely person to become queen of England. She was born on February 6, 1665 to the Duke and Duchess of York and was their second daughter out of three children. Shortly before her birth, her uncle, King Charles II, had married and seemed destined to have a large family after fathering several illegitimate children. But he had no more children. As Anne grew older she would be plagued by numerous health problems, but she survived to adulthood. She only received a limited education, yet Anne would reign during a critically important period in her nation's history. During her reign she would oversee two major events in English history, one domestic and one foreign. The first being the Act of Union that united England and Scotland. The second was a major international war, the War of Spanish Succession. Best remembered as the last of the Stuart dynasty Anne had no heirs. The events of her reign would pave the way for Britain to become an international world power.

"Although born into royalty, her education was similar to that of other aristocratic girls: languages and music. Her knowledge of history was limited and she received no instruction in civil law or military matters that most male monarchs were expected to have. She was also a sickly child, and may have suffered from the blood disease porphyria, as well as having poor vision and a serious case of smallpox at the age of twelve. Poor health would plague Anne her entire life, probably contributing to her many miscarriages.

"Anne grew up in an atmosphere of controversy. Her father James, the Duke of York, and both her mother and later her stepmother were Roman Catholic. They would have preferred to raise Anne and Mary (their only children to survive early childhood) as Roman Catholics. Nevertheless, prominent Protestants, such as Henry Compton, later bishop of London, interceded and ensured the girls would not only be required to attend Protestant services but that they also receive Protestant religious instruction.

"Anne's life dramatically changed when the Lord Treasurer and Earl of Danby, in an attempt to strengthen his influence with King Charles II, arranged the marriage of Anne's sister, Mary, to William of Orange. Their father, the Duke of York, had wanted to wed Mary to the heir to the French throne, a Roman Catholic. Danby persuaded by the King to allow the marriage to William, a Dutch Protestant and an enemy of France, thus straining the close relationship between Anne and Mary. Anne married Prince George of Denmark. This was an arrangement Anne's father negotiated in secret with sponsorship by King Louis XIV of France, who hoped for a Anglo-Danish alliance against William of Orange and the Dutch. No such alliance would ever materialize.

"Her husband did not affect Anne's position as he remained politically weak and inactive, suffering from a drinking problem. Prince George's influence in matters of state would remain small throughout their marriage. The relationship he had with Anne was a close one and she loved him deeply, however, their marriage was saddened by Anne's twelve miscarriages and the fact that none of their other five children reached adulthood.

"When King Charles II died in 1686, Anne's father became King James II. His Roman Catholicism and his desire to rule without Parliament's input caused Parliament to call on William of Orange and Mary to take the throne, in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. This revolution created a constitutional, limited monarchy in England, where elected representatives, not a dynastic monarch, truly ruled. Interestingly, later Queen Anne became the last British monarch to veto an act of Parliament. Anne supported the revolution and opposed her father.

"Mary allowed her husband to rule, and neither got along with Anne during their reign. But since they never had children, after Mary died, followed by William, in 1702, the throne then passed to Anne. The Settlement Act of 1701 paved the way for Anne's reign. It stated that if Anne died without children the throne would pass to the German Hanoverians. The only challenge was her half brother James, a Roman Catholic living in exile in France. Thus Anne ascended as the last Stuart monarch, and was the first married queen to rule England.

"Anne's reign would be characterized by the attempts of others to manipulate her. Most significantly among these individuals was Sarah Churchill. A friend of Anne's since childhood, Anne leaned heavily on her for companionship. After Anne's marriage she named Sarah to the prestigious position of Lady of the Bedchamber. After Anne became queen, she named Sarah to other prominent posts including Keeper of the Privy Purse, Mistress of the Robes and Groom of the Stole. Their relationship for many years was a close one with Anne showering Sarah with large allowances and gifts, such as the huge and extravagant Blenheim estate. The estate was given to the Churchill's as a reward for John Churchill's important military victory in the War of Spanish Succession. Anne often seemed dependent on Sarah, at least for emotional support. Anne would constantly write to Sarah when Sarah was away from the court attending to her family. Anne's letters made it seem like she could not get along without Sarah. They would use playful pseudonyms when writing to each other: Anne being Mrs. Morley and Sarah Mrs. Freeman. Their relationship would eventually deteriorate due to Sarah's nagging and their many petty arguments. Sarah would fall out of favor and would be replaced as Anne's favorite by a distant cousin, Abigail Masham.

"The end of Anne's friendship with Sarah signaled a change in political influences as well. Although Anne had always been a strong Tory throughout her reign she had vigorously supported the War of Spanish Succession, a Whig war. Sarah Churchill was a Whig and her husband John, though a Tory, was the leading English general in the conflict. Because of the Churchill's influence, Anne had always been inclined to support the war which was the most important event in foreign affairs during Anne's reign. However, when Abigail Masham a Tory replaced Sarah as Anne's close friend it signaled a shift in politics. Some historians believe Anne manipulated her ministers to enact the policies she wanted while others see her as a monarch manipulated by her ministers. Whatever the case, when the Tories came into power they negotiated an end to the war.

"The Settlement Act of 1701 had angered Scotland where the Stuart dynasty had originated. The Scots threatened to bring back James, Anne's Roman Catholic half-brother and pretender to the throne, to rule. To head off a revolt and unite support for the crown, Anne pushed for the Act of Union which would unite England and Scotland. The Act of Union was finally accepted in 1707.

"In the last couple years of her life Anne became very ill. She was often bedridden and attended to by doctors. These doctors used many techniques to try to cure Anne including bleeding her and applying hot irons. These crude medicinal techniques probably did more harm than good, and Anne died on July 31st 1714."

From King's College website of Brian A. Pavlac on Women's History.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Inventory of the White House February 1809 just before Thomas Jefferson returned to Monticello


1805 Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) Portrait of Thomas Jefferson 

Thomas Jefferson was President of the United Stated from March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809.  In anticpation of his March return to Monticello, he had an inventory made of the contents of the President's House, the White House, in Washington DC.  This is that inventory:


Inventory of President’s House, 19 February 1809


Store Room in the Garret
7. Pair of best brass andirons.
32. Brass. Carpet rods. 1. Pair Iron Dogs.

Store Room no. 2.
1. Plateau in five parts with a set of ornaments
5. Brass lamps— 2 vase lamps. 1. Cabbin lamp
3. Glass sconces out of order
1. Mahogany Table & large clothes basket
12 pillars & 2 childrens Mattresses. 2. Bolsters
2. large fire tenders. 2. pair large Brass Andirons
1. large Brussels carpet
8. cotton blankets
2. Old arm Chairs
1. Mahogany Table & remnants of Brussels carpet.

North West Corner—Lady’s Dressing room.
4. Night Tables and 8. Mahogany Chairs
a small bundle of Old Curtains

Large Room—North Side.
1. elegant bedstead with white dimity curtains, bed mattress, counterpane & bolster
2. Chints window Curtains
1. Sofa 12. fashionable Chairs, crimson and Gold
2. Mahogany Tables. 1. wash stand. 1 looking Glass.
1 elegant Lady’s dressing Table 1. toilet with trimmings
Brussels Carpet on the floor— 1 Stool to ascend the Bed.

Presidents Dressing Room
11. Chairs Crimson and Gold
3. Suits dimity window Curtains with cornices
1. Bidet and a mahogany Table. common Carpet on floor.

Passage adjoining the Presidents Bed Room
8. fashionable Chairs—crimson and Gold
1. large Mahogany Wardrobe.
1. elegant Couch with mattress & furniture
1. Mahogany window Stool. a Brussels carpet on the floor

President’s Bed Room
Beadstead, Mattress, Bed, Bolster, pair of sheets.
Blanket & counterpane— Bed curtains with cornice
2. Suits of dimity window curtains with cornice
1. Bureau 1. dressing & one looking Glass.
1. Small Mahogany Table and wash Stand.
5. fashionable Chairs—crimson and Gold.
1. window Stool stuffed Seat & white dimity cover
2. Mahogany wash Stands
3. Prints—Washington— Adams. Jefferson.
a Machine to hang Clothes on.
1. Mahogany fire screen— Brussels carpet on the floor.

Large Chamber—South front.
1. large Mahogany Couch, mattress with dimity cover
14. Mahogany Chairs— crimson damask bottoms
2. Small Mahogany Sofa’s covered with hair cloth.
3. Small Mahogany Tables.— 1. looking Glass.
2. Suits dimity window Curtains with cornice

Lady’s Drawing Room.
22. Mahogany Chairs Crimson Damask bottoms
5. Crimson Damask window curtains with cornice
2. Mahogany Sofa’s—crimson bottoms
4. Girandoles with elegant brass lamps.
1. elegant Glass Chandelier
2. large looking Glasses. 1. pair Mahogany Card Tables
7. pieces elegant Chimney ornaments.
a Brussels Carpet.

Large Bed Room—South front.
1. elegant Mahogany bedstead, bed, mattress & cotton counterpane, chints curtains & elegant cornice
12. fashionable Chairs. Gold and Green.
1. Mahogany wardrobe.
an elegant Mahogany commode.
2. Small Mahogany Tables & wash stand
1. looking Glass and dressing Glass.
2. Suits dimity window curtains with cornice
Brussels Carpet & wire fender.

Small bed Room—South front.
1. Beadstead. 2. Beds—chints curtains and cornice
1. Suit chints window curtains with cornice
5. fashionable Chairs—Gold & Green
2. Small Mahogany Tables & wash stand
1. Mahogany side board— 1 looking Glass.
1. Machine for hanging clothes on
1. large easy Chair with chints cover.
1. Night Table and an elegant Brussels carpet.

Dressing Room adjoining the above.
8. fashionable Chairs—green & Gold.
1. chints window curtain with cornice
Toilet Table and common carpet.

Bed Chamber—South east Corner.
1. Mahogany bed Stead, bed, mattress, counterpane
white dimity curtains gilt cornice
5. fashionable Chairs Green and Gold.
1. Small Mahogany Table and wash Stand
a toilet table & dressing Glass.
3. Suits Chints window Curtains with cornice
one Night table & common Carpet.
Great passage on the second floor.
2. Suits Circular window Curtains—yellow
35. Mahogany Chairs—1. Mahogany Table.
2. large passage Lamps.
common carpet covering the whole.

Principal Stairs—
Carpet covering the whole.

Private Stairs & passage—
Common carpet and small Globe lamp

Bed Chamber—North front.—
Bedstead, bed, mattress, pair of sheets, cotton counterpane— chints curtain and cornice—
6. fashionable chairs—black and Gold.
1. elegant Mahogany commode & small mahogany Table—
1. Chints window curtain with cornice
Brussels carpet.

Dressing Room attached to the above
6. fashionable chairs—Gold and Green.
1. Mahogany wardrobe.
1. Lady’s elegant Mahogany table. wash Stand & Glass.
common carpet.
1. large mahogany Table.
a Machine for hanging clothes on
a Childs small mahogany bedstead with curtains

Bed Chamber—North front.
1. elegant Mahogany bedstead, bed, bolster mattress and counterpane, white dimity curtains
Chints drapery and Gilt cornice
6. fashionable Chairs—blue and Gold.
1. Mahogany Bureau & small table
1. Toilet Table, dressing Glass & wash stand— night Table
Looking Glass and Brussels carpet.
Dimity window curtains with cornice

Presidents Cabinet—.
6. Small mahogany paper cases.
Small mahogany Writing Tables.
3. long Mahogany Tables covered with green cloth.
2. mahogany window stools covered with hair cloth
1. set of Mahogany Steps for library
1. Letter press. a Desk and Book case.
1. large folding screen & wash stand—
12. Chairs—black and Gold.
1. Sofa & two Mahogany arm chairs
shovel Tongs and Poker.

Presidents Sitting Room
2. elegant Girandoles.
2. Glass shades and a looking Glass.
2. Mantel ornaments. an elegant time piece
1. Globe Inkstand
3. Sofa’s covered with black hair cloth
an elegant Mahogany drink Table with a Marble Top
1. Mahogany card Table & two Small Tables.
a Chinese pipe
16. fashionable Chairs—black and Gold.
2. Suits elegant window Curtains with cornice
1. elegant Brussels carpet and fire rug—

Presidents Drawing room
5. Suits Chints window curtains with cornice
4. Elegant Girandoles & Glass lustres
1. large chandelier and 2. Glass shades.
3. alabaster Chimney ornaments.
2. china and Silver Do.—.
a full length Picture of Genl. Washington—Gilt frame
4. large Mahogany Sofa’s covered with hair Cloth
24. fashionable Chairs—blue and Gold.
2. large Mahogany Card Tables.
2. Square Mahogany Tables with leaves.
an elegant Brussels Carpet— Shovel. tongs— poker.

Small Dining Room—S. front.
1. large Mahogany Dumb waiter
4.  Small   do.
1. extra large Mahogany Dining Table in 6. pieces.
1. Small dining Table in three parts.
1. large Mahogany Square Table.
15. Chairs black and Gold.
1. elegant side board with pedestals & urn knife cases.
2. Glass Cases. to Contain the Silver & plated ware
3. fire Screens. 2. elegant Girandoles and
2. Looking Glasses.
1. Oval breakfast Table
2. Suits of chints window curtains and cornice
a canvass floor cloth, painted Green.
2. large green cloth covers for the dining Tables.
3. large Japaned Waiters—

Silver Ware in the Small Dining Room
6. Casseroles with dishes—silver.
2. bread baskets
1. Small Globe Coffe Urn—Silver.
2. large Punch Urns & Ladles. Silver.
1. large Sugar Pot & Cream Pot. Silver
3. large Castors—Silver.
10. Salt Stands Silver.
8. large Ragout Spoons
5. gravy Spoons.
5. Soup ladles—1. small cart
18. french Table Spoons & forks.
32. french Tea Spoons.
82. Table Spoons.
38. dessert Spoons.
1. Tea pot, Cream pot. Sugar pot. Silver.
4. Doz: Common Tea Spoons.
2. fish trowels Silver— 2. Cream Spoons.
13. french Knives— 2. Doz: fruit Knives
8. Bottle Stands.
1. pair elegant Tea & Coffee Urns—Plated ware
1. large and 2. small common urns.
2. large waiters. 1. pair Chamber Candlesticks
2. Sallad dishes with glasses
8. small waiters— 8. coolers—4. oval—4. round
16. Goblets— 3. Can’s. 3. Dish warmers.
10. Barrel tumblers
8. candlesticks with branches.
1. candlestick with a double Lamp.
2. branches on the side board.
1. Castor. 2. Silver Terrines— 2. Silver Pudding Dishes

Secretary’s Bedroom.
1. Mahogany bedstead, bed, Mattress & dimity curtain
1. Counterpane & a pair of Sheets—
2. Suits of window Curtains—chints
1. Mahogany Bureau & wash Stand.
a common carpet. 3. common chairs 1. looking Glass

Secretarys Office
2. large cases for Papers.
2. Suits chints window curtains
7. Arm Chairs—black and gold
1. Mahogany table covered with green cloth
1. Common Carpet, fire rug— shovel tongs & poker.

Large Unfinished Room—East end
34. armed Chairs black and Gold.
1. Mahogany Side Table.— 1. Cooler.
1. Table & Kettles for washing Tumblers. &c
1. large Dumb waiter
1. pair large Brass Andirons.

The Great Hall of entrance
2. side Tables.
2. large Mahogany Tables with leaves
3. elegant Globe lamps—8. fire Buckets.
2. Suits window Curtains with Cornice
4. Girandoles with Brass lamps.
1. Eight day Clock
4. Common Settee’s
28. Mahogany Chairs with hair cloth bottoms
the whole floor covered with canvass painted Green

Large Dining Room—N.W. Corner.
1. elegant side board with pedestals & urns.
2.    Do. Common—
1. Large Dumb Waiter
2. Japaned plate warmers.
3. Mahogany Knife Cases. 1. Dining Table.
1. fire Screen— 2. Japaned Costers
2. plated Candlesticks with branches.
2.  Do. ....   without branches.
3. Alabaster Chimney Ornaments
2. elegant Girandoles.
5. Suits dimity window curtains with cornice
15. fashionable Chairs—black and Gold
an elegant Brussels carpet.
3. fire Shovels and three pair of Tongs.

Small Room—North Side
1. pair of Plated candlesticks with branches.
2. pair of brass Lamps.
3. pair of high plated Candlesticks
3. Do. .... of Chamber Do. ..
1. pine Closet and 2. large common Tables.
1. fender—tongs and Poker.
1. Common waiter & 1. small looking Glass.
2. Coal Scuttles & a lanthern
painted floor cloth.
1. Suit Common Curtains with cornice

Stewards Room—
3. common Mahogany Tables.
1. Desk and Book case.
1. Bedstead, Bed, Mattress bolster Pillar
Sheets, Blanket & counterpane with old Chints Curtains—
1. Bureau & small round Table.
3. pair of brass candlesticks
5. Japaned Waiters. 7. Common Chairs.
3. Mahogany Chairs covered with hair cloth
1. Looking Glass & 2. common window curtains
10. pair of blankets packed up
7. pair of servants Blankets
13. Vase Lamps. 3. tongs & 3. Pokers.
1. Warming Pan— 1. foot Stove— 4. Ice moulds.
4. Coolers. 3. Shovels. 5. Copper bound buckets
1. Box to put french spoons in
1. Trunk of Calico furniture of various kinds—

Servants Room—S. side—
Cot. Bed and Sheets— 1. large Pine Table.
1. pine Desk & an old Chair.

Room adjoining.—
1. Bedstead, bed & sheets with curtains
3. Common chairs & a walnut night Table—
1. Mattress 1. Pillar. 1. Rug. 1. pair of brass andirons
1. fender— 2. old window curtains & an old Table—

Room adjoining—
1. bedstead, bed, bolster and rug
2. pine Tables. & 5. common Chairs
3. Mahogany trays—2. plate Baskets.
2.    Coal Scuttles—

Room ajoining—
10. Dining Table cloths 6. Do. Breakfast. Do.
19—  fine Sheets. 4. Doz: Diaper Napkins
11. pair Servants Sheets.
1. Bedstead, bed, Mattress, bolster & curtains
5. Common Chairs & an old Pine Table.
8. Servants table cloths—

Room adjoining.—
1. bedstead, bed, coverlid & curtains
1. Mahogany Wardrobe and looking Glass.
6. Old Chairs and a pine Table.
20. fine Pillar Cases.

Wash House—
2. large Pine Tables. Clothes Horse, tubs, Buckets &c
2. large Copper boilers & brass wash kettle—
1. large screw press for linen—
1. Bedstead and Mattress.
1. Bedstead, bed & coverlid
1. Bedstead, bed & coverlid

Passage Lower Story
2. lamps and 2. Pine Cases.

Kitchen—.
2. large Grates— 2. Coal Scuttles.
1. Large Meat heater— 1. eight day Clock.
a large quantity of copper & tin ware &c
Another Room Ajoining the Kitchen
1. Bedstead, bed and coverlid
1. Chair and an old Pine Table.

China
2. large Punch Bowls. 2. Terrines for Soup.
16. Dishes different sizes— 3. Do. round Pudding
52. Plates—16. Do. for Soup. 30. Do. Dessert.
18. Coffee Cups & Saucers.
18. Tea Cups Do.—2 Small cream Terrines—
2. Sauce bowls. 24. Saucers.
3. Gilt Teapots. 4. blue gilt bowls for preserves.
6.    different sizes Glass.
8. dishes for apples.—compote dishes
glass.
30. Decanters—9. water bottles. 4. Do. Small
72. Tumblers. 75. Jelly Glasses.
72. Wine Glasses.
13. Oval Crystals for sweet meats
27. Do. Do.   Small.
48. wine Glasses.
20. liqueur Glasses.
2. Water Pitchers—

Common China—
8. Tea cups and Saucers.
3. Blue China Terrines
34. blue China Dishes
74. blue China Soup plates—
76 flat plates—blue China
78. blue China Dessert Plates.
76 Do.   smaller.
18. Do. Custard Cups.
5. Do. Sauce terrines.
6. oval sauce bowls.
4. round Pudding Dishes
9 Chamber Pots.
8. Water Pitchers & Basons.

Earthen Ware—
9. Chamber Pots.
12. Common Plates.
7. deep Pudding Dishes
42. Common Plates.
30.  Do. Smaller.
10. wash Basons.

Kitchen furniture
69— different Pieces.—
6. Iron Pots.

Kitchen furniture
of Copper.
 1. large kettle for washing Stew pans
31. Stew pans (casseroles) with handles. different sized.
31. Covers Do.   Do.
1. large Skillet for preserves.
2. round Casseroles with lids
1. Oval Do— .... do.— 1. English fish Kettle Do— 1. French Do— .... Do.
4. Pots (Marmite) different sizes Do—
2.  Copper Sheets
2.  Do. Deep.
4. Oval Pudding Dishes.
1. Dripping Pan.
2. pair of scales.—
Assortment of moulds for different things of Tin—
of Copper.
2. Ladles.
2. Do. with holes (percé)
2. Skimmers.
2. Tea Kettles.
1. Great boiler—
Iron.
1. Grid iron for Oysters.
2. Do.     for Meat.
2. Dutch Ovens
2. frying Pans.
1.   
1. Cleaver.
1. Iron Boiler
3. Spits with their Skewers.
5. Chevrettes—(hand Irons).
1. Coal Shovel.
2. large Tongs
1. Cake Iron.
1.    Grate Do.
1. Coffee toaster
1. Coffee Mill—.
1. Poker.
1. Roasting stand
1 marble mortar
1.  Kitchen Screen
   fire Jack—.

U.S. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 
DLC: Papers of Thomas Jefferson.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

February, 1843 End of the World Prediction in Canada



Sarah Terwilligar’s attempt to fly to heaven as the world is to come to an end, from Upper Canada Sketches by Thomas Conant, 1898.

Thomas Conant, in his 1898 book, Upper Canada Sketches, details how people in East Whitby and Area thought the world was going to end in February of 1843.  Conant wrote:

“The “Millerite scare,” as it might be called, was another instance of the extent to which religious fanatics could influence their hearers and affect their lives. From some manuscript left by my mother, and the account given me by my father, and by my uncle, David Annis, I have gleaned the following anecdotes of this curious event in our country:  

“During the Winter of 1842-3 the Second Adventists, or Millerites, were preaching that the world would be all burnt up in February, 1843. Nightly meetings were held, generally in the school-houses.

“Sarah Terwilligar, who lived about a mile east of Oshawa “corners,” on the Kingston Road, made for herself wings of silk, and, on the night of 14th of February, jumped off the porch of her home, expecting to fly heavenward. Falling to the ground some fifteen feet, she was shaken up severely and rendered wholly unfit to attend at all to the fires that were expected to follow the next day.”

The apocalypse was to have begun at two o'clock in the morning, at which time the fresh February snow would have turned to blood and started to burn. The Millerites were a bit off in their prediction.

And as for Sarah Terwilligar clad in her diaphanous gown, truly a woman with an instinct for attractive adornment under every circumstance, she broke her leg.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

No snow today but still chilly - 1930s Depression - Central Park in New York City



Carl Gustaf Nelson (American artist, 1898-1988) Central Park, 1934

Neither the cold of winter nor the gloom of the Great Depression kept the children of New York City from enjoying Central Park, the city’s greatest green space. Artist Carl Nelson reported that he had almost as much fun as the children, drawing by the hour despite the chill of February 1934. When his hands got cold, Nelson recalled, he “would go to the monkey house in the Central Park Zoo to warm up.”

Nelson shows the park on a weekday afternoon full of mothers taking their toddlers out to play, while the older children are in school. The southern end of the park, near the elegant hotels in the background, was designed for children. They could romp on the playground, ride the carousel, or play games in the Children’s Cottage. A little girl in an orange coat feeds the squirrels. Nelson’s idyllic image does not include the grimmer reality farther north in Central Park; where homeless people squatted in a shantytown or “Hooverville,” as they waited for better times.

From The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Incessant rains now melting the snow...



James Gillray (English caricaturist, 1756-1815) A Squall 1810

Still too much snow...



 1300s Snowball fight in Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 135. Book of Hours, Use of Rome.



 1390-1400 Snowball fight in Tacuinum Sanitatis (BnF NAL 1673)



 1405-10 Fresco depicting January at Castello Buonconsiglio, Trento, Italy, c. 1405-1410  b.



 1405-10 Fresco depicting January at Castello Buonconsiglio, Trento, Italy, c. 1405-1410.



Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry 1400s Limbourg brothers’ illustration for February. 



 1510 Snowball fight in Walters Art Museum, W42512R. Flemish



1650s David Teniers the Younger (Flemish artist, 1610–1690) Winter


Monday, February 15, 2016

There is something alluring about a black squirrel in the snow



Watching the prudent squirrels scampering over leaves and little piles of snow in our woods here in Maryland, I am remembering the great American Mid West, where I saw beautiful black squirrels.  Here in the Chesapeake, we are most accustomed to seeing the very busy Eastern Grey Squirrels.  We have some red squirrels here in our part of Maryland, but the grey are more common.





Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day - On the Other Hand - Wife Selling in 17C-19C Britain & her American colonies





Sale of a Wife in Smithfield Market
Now is your time gemmen; here's my Fat Heifer and ten pounds worth of bad Halfpence, all for half a Guinea, why her Hide's worth more to a Tanner; I'll warrant She's Beef to the Heels, and tho' her Horns ben't Wisible, yet he that buys her will soon feel their Sharpness.--there han't been such a Beast in the Market for Years--Zounds says the Fool in Blue Apron, I think I'll take her of thee, She and the Halfpence, must be worth the Money, I have had two Wives, and wou'd have Sold 'em for half that Sum.
Published 25th July 1797 by Laurie & Whittle, 53 Fleet Street, London

Wife selling in England was a method of ending an unhappy marriage (probably by mutual agreement) which seemed to gain popularity in the late 17C, when divorce was a practical impossibility for all but the very rich. After performing the ritual of leading his wife with a rope halter around her neck, arm, or waist, a husband would publicly auction her to the highest bidder. 


It is reported that there is an account in England from 1302 of a husband who "granted his wife by deed to another man." With the general rise in the ability to read & the increasing availability of newspapers, written reports of the practice become more frequent in the 2nd half of the 18C. 


The 1832 Gentleman's Magazine reported several occasions of wife selling in the 17C.  In November 1692 "John, ye son of Nathan Whitehouse, of Tipton, sold his wife to Mr. Bracegirdle," although the manner of the sale is unrecorded. In 1696, Thomas Heath Maultster was fined for "cohabiteing in an unlawful manner with the wife of George ffuller of Chinner ... haueing bought her of her husband at 2d.q. the pound"


Until the Marriage Act of 1753, a formal ceremony of marriage before a clergyman was not a legal requirement in England, & marriages were unregistered except those performed in parish churches & noted in church registers. All that was required was for both parties to agree to the union, so long as each had reached the legal age of consent, which was 12 for girls & 14 for boys. 


Women were completely subordinated to their husbands after marriage, the husband & wife becoming one legal entity, a legal status known as coverture. As jurist William Blackstone wrote in 1753: "the very being, or legal existence of the woman, is suspended during the marriage, or at least is consolidated & incorporated into that of her husband: under whose wing, protection & cover, she performs everything." Married women could not own property in their own right, & were indeed themselves the property of their husbands. But Blackstone went on to observe that "even the disabilities the wife lies under are, for the most part, intended for her protection & benefit. So great a favourite is the female sex of the laws of England." (Poor, unintelligent women needed "protection.")


Along with other English customs, settlers arriving in the British American colonies during the late 17C & early 18C carried with them the practice of wife selling, & the belief in its legitimacy as a way of ending a marriage. 


The Boston Evening-Post reported on 15 March 1736 an argument between two men "& a certain woman, each one claiming her as his Wife, but so it was that one of them had actually disposed of his Right in her to the other for Fifteen Shillings." The purchaser had, apparently, refused to pay in full, & had attempted to return "his" wife. He was given the outstanding sum by 2 generous bystanders, & paid the husband—who promptly "gave the Woman a modest Salute wishing her well, & his Brother Sterling much Joy of his Bargain." 


In 1645 "The P'ticular Court" of Hartford, Connecticut, reported the case of Baggett Egleston, who was fined 20 shillings for "bequething his wyfe to a young man." 


After the Revolution, American independence brought women several paths to freedom from husbands who were abusive, neglectful, or adulterous. In the pre-Revolution British American colonial society, divorce was nearly impossible under English precedent, but all of the newly independent "states" recognized the need to legally end unhappy marriages. The choice of appropriate remedies varied considerably. 


Some of the new American states, particularly in the South, only allowed separate residence with alimony (called divorce from bed & board). Other states granted absolute divorce with the right of the innocent party to remarry. In matters of divorce, local social, & religious values affected the laws in different parts of the newly united country. 


The conservatism of divorce laws in the southern states was probably related to the practice of chattel slavery in a variety of ways. Married women were seen by some as the chattel of their husbands. Southern lawmakers also seemed reluctant to grant women absolute divorces, because of the frequent occurrence of slave-owning husbands having sexual relationships with their slaves. 


The more liberal New England divorce laws, in contrast, stemmed from a longstanding Puritan belief, that it was better for unhappy couples to separate & remarry than to be joined forever in a state of discord & temptation to sin.


An account in 1781 of a William Collings of South Carolina records a "Bill of Sale" of a "Wife and Property" for "Two Dollars and half Dozen Bowls of Grogg," the buyer "to have my said Wife for ever and a Day." According to Richard B. Morris, "although the administration of the law was in a somewhat unsettled state during this ["British"] military occupation [of Charleston], neither at common law nor under the marriage laws then in force in South Carolina would the sale of a wife have been valid." The document likely was a way, wrote Morris, for "dissolving the marriage bond" since the state forbade divorce "and the marriage laws of the Church of England were widely disregarded among the poorer whites and in the back country," but it could also have been intended to reduce the husband's liability for debts for support of the wife and her children and for her pre-marriage debts.


In mother England, at least 5 methods of breaking up a marriage existed before & after the American Revolution. One was to sue in the ecclesiastical courts for separation from bed & board (a mensa et thoro), on the grounds of adultery or life-threatening cruelty, but it did not allow a remarriage. 

From the 1550s, until the Matrimonial Causes Act became law in 1857, divorce in England was only possible, if at all, by the complex & costly procedure of a private Act of Parliament. Although the divorce courts set up in the wake of the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act made the procedure considerably cheaper, divorce remained prohibitively expensive for the poorer members of society. An alternative was to obtain a "private separation," an agreement negotiated between both spouses, embodied in a deed of separation drawn up by a conveyancer. 


In England, desertion or elopement was also possible, whereby the wife was forced out of the family home, or the husband simply set up a new home with his mistress. This tactic was also used in the British American colonies, especially before the Revoluion. 

  
Finally, the notion of wife selling was an alternative method of ending a marriage. The Laws Respecting Women, As They Regard Their Natural Rights (1777) observed that, for the poor, wife selling was viewed as a "method of dissolving marriage," when "a husband & wife find themselves heartily tired of each other, & agree to part, if the man has a mind to authenticate the intended separation by making it a matter of public notoriety."

In the following excerpt, originally published in 1808, Charles Fourier argues that French & English women of the period were treated little better than slaves & that social progress in both countries depended on granting women greater freedoms & rights. "Is there a shadow of justice to be seen in the fate that has befallen women? Is not a young woman a mere piece of merchandise displayed for sale to the highest bidder as exclusive property? Is not the consent she gives to the conjugal bond derisory & forced on her by the tyranny of the prejudices that obsess her from childhood on? People try to persuade her that her chains are woven only of flowers; but can she really have any doubt about her degradation, even in those regions that are bloated by philosophy such as England, where a man has the right to take his wife to market with a rope around her neck, and sell her like a beast of burden to anyone who will pay his asking price?"  (Charles Fourier. "Degradation of Women in Civilization." Theorie des Quatre Mouvements et des Destinees Generales, pp. 131-33. Paris, France: n.p., 1841-48.)


Although the wife selling custom had no basis in law & sometimes resulted in prosecution, particularly from the mid-19C onwards, the attitude of English authorities was equivocal. At least one early 19C magistrate is on record as stating that he did not believe he had the right to prevent wife sales, & there were cases of local Poor Law Commissioners forcing husbands to sell their wives, rather than having to maintain the family in workhouses.


Wife selling persisted in England in some form until the early 20C; according to the jurist & historian James Bryce, writing in 1901, wife sales were still occasionally taking place during his time. In one of the last reported instances of a wife sale in England, a woman giving evidence in a Leeds police court in 1913 claimed that she had been sold to one of her husband's workmates for £1.


Another form of wife selling in England was by deed of conveyance. The practice became more widespread after the 1850s, as popular opinion generally turned against the market sale of a wife. The issue of the commonly perceived legitimacy of wife selling was also brought to the government. In 1881, Home Secretary William Harcourt was asked to comment on an incident in Sheffield, in which a man sold his wife for a quart of beer. Harcourt replied: "no impression exists anywhere in England that the selling of wives is legitimate" & "that no such practice as wife selling exists."  But just 8 years later in 1889, a member of the Salvation Army was recorded selling his wife for a shilling in Hucknall Torkard, Nottinghamshire, & subsequently leading her by the halter to her buyer's house. 



Selling a Wife (1812–14), by English artist Thomas Rowlandson

A Few Public Notices

November, 1692. "John, ye son of Nathan WHITEHOUSE, of Tipton, sold his wife to Mr. Bracegirdle."


1720 from Lloyd's Magazine, "We were lately witnesses of a case of wife-selling in an old town in South Staffordshire. It appeared that the husband had set his affections on another woman, and his wife hearing of it, had very justly showed their displeasure in a variety of ways; whereupon the husband, who was a collier, took her to the marketplace, and sold her to the highest bidder for five shillings. There was much excitement in the crowd which assembled to witness the act, and the affair ended with a good deal of drinking at the expense of the husband and the purchaser."


"Annual Register," August 3lst, 1733 "Three men and three women went to the Bell Inn, Edgbaston Street, Birmingham, and made the following entry in the Toll Book which is kept there: Samuel WHITEHOUSE, of the parish of Willenhall, in the County of Stafford, sold his wife, Mary WHITEHOUSE, in open market, to Thomas GRIFFITHS, of Birmingham. Value, one guinea. To take her with all her faults. (Signed) Samuel WHITEHOUSE / Mary WHITEHOUSE. Voucher: T. BUCKLEY."


Court record Bill of Sale of Oct. 24, 1766 "It is this day agreed on between John Parsons, of the parish of Midsummer Norton, in the county of Somerset, clothworker, & John Tooker, of the same place, gentleman, that the said John Parsons, for & in consideration of the sum of six pounds & six shillings in hand paid to the said John Parsons, doth sell, assign, & set over unto the said John Tooker, Ann Parsons, wife of the said John Parsons; with all right, property, claim, services, & demands whatsoever, that he, the said John Parsons, shall have in or to the said Ann Parsons, for & during the term of the natural life of her, the said Ann Parsons. In witness whereof I, the said John Parsons, have set my hand the day & year first above written. JOHN PARSONS.'Witness: WILLIAM CHIVERS."


World, June 21, 1788, "Not many days since a man publicly sold his wife for 12 shillings. In the payment he had insisted in having new shillings as he had never had had anything but what was bad in exchange for her and therefore must take more care."


Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, September 4, 1789 "On Thursday last at Yarlington fair, in this county, Ann Atwell wife of William Atwell was sold for five shillings to Thomas Wadman. The woman was delivered, as is customary with a large cord. He had promised her good keeping and six pence was paid in earnest."


World, September 22, 1789 "A man of the name John Petts lately sold his wife and three children for two shillings and six pence. He shewed her by leading her up and down the road in a halter in which she was delivered up to her new purchaser. She was thought to be no bargain."


Aris's Birmingham Gazette March lst, 1790 "As instances of the sales of wives have of late frequently occurred among the lower classes of people who consider such sale lawful, we think it right to inform them that, by a determination of the courts of law' in a former reign, they were declared illegal and void, and considered (a light in which religion must view them) as mere pretence to sanction the crime of adultery."


World, November 12, 1790 "A man at Nimfield stocks in Sussex last week sold his wife to another man of the same place for half a pint of gin; the purchaser being in liquor at the time the bargain was concluded, the seller in order that he should not complain of any unfair advantage having been taken of him took his dear spouse to bed and board until the next morning when the buyer attended and claimed his lady who was delivered by the husband in due form, having a halter round her neck, and two witnesses being present.  The woman appeared overjoyed at the change, nor did the man seem less happy at their lots."


Oracle and Public Advertiser, March 31, 1796 "On Saturday evening last John Lees, steel burner, sold his wife for the sum of 6 shillings to Samuel Hall, fellmonger, both of Sheffield. Lees gave Hall one guinea immediately to have her taken off to Manchester the day following by coach. She was delivered up with a halter round her neck and the clerk of the market received 4 pence for the toll."


Oracle and Public Advertiser, July 18, 1797 "Smithfield Market. Another anti-matrimonial bargain has taken place in this mart of living stock. But whatever may be the cause, the fact is that the price of ladies has risen here; a man sold his wife yesterday for three guineas and a half."


The Times July 1797 "On Friday a butcher exposed his wife to Sale in Smithfield Market, near the Ram Inn, with a halter about her neck, & one about her waist, which tied her to a railing, when a hog-driver was the happy purchaser, who gave the husband three guineas & a crown for his departed rib. Pity it is, there is no stop put to such depraved conduct in the lower order of people." 


Oracle and Public Advertiser, September 23, 1797 "The price of wives is no longer regulated by what the article brings to Smithfield. It has advanced considerably more than it was some months ago; for last week a wife sold for twenty five pounds at Towcester."


Bell’s Weekly Messenger, January 25, 1801 "Lawrence Stephen of West Luton in the East Riding of York sold his wife Jane to William Servant of Hovingham for five shillings, who returned two shilling and six pence to the purchaser in open market at New Malton on Saturday night and delivered in a halter on Monday at the Market Cross there."


A Staffordshire County newspaper, March lst, 1801 evidently referring to an incident in Stafford, said, "On Tuesday last HODSON a chimney sweeper, better known by the appropriate nickname of Cupid, brought his wife into the Market Place of this town and disposed of her by auction. She was put up at the sum of one penny, but as there were several bidders, and of course a good deal of rivalship, she sold for five shillings and sixpence. The usual delicate ceremony of tying a rope round the woman's neck was dispensed with; but we could mention a way in which a rope might very properly reward the persons concerned in this disgraceful violation of decency and morality."


Morning Herald, March 11, 1802: "On the 11th of last month, a person sold, at the market cross, in Chapel en le Frith, a wife, a child, and as much furniture as would set up a beggar, for eleven shillings!"


Morning Herald, April 16, 1802: "A Butcher sold his wife by auction the last market day at Hereford. The lot brought £1 4s. and a bowl of punch."


Doncaster Gazette March 25, 1803, "A fellow sold his wife, as a cow, in Sheffield market-place a few days ago. The lady was put into the hands of a butcher, who held her by a halter fastened round her waist. 'What do you ask for your cow?' said a bystander. 'A guinea,' replied the husband. 'Done!' cried the other, and immediately led away his bargain." 


Annual Register, February 14, 1806: "A man named John Gorsthorpe exposed his wife for sale in the market, at Hull, about one o'clock ; but, owing to the crowd which such an extraordinary occurrence had gathered together, he was obliged to defer the sale, and take her away. About four- o'clock, however, he again brought her out, and she was sold for 20 guineas, and delivered, in a halter, to a person named Houseman, who had lodged with them four or five years."


Morning Post, October 10, 1807: "One of those disgraceful scenes, which have, of late, become too common, took place on Friday se'nnight at Knaresborough. Owing to some jealousy, or other family difference, a man brought his wife, equipped in the usual style, and sold her at the market cross for 6d. and a quid of tobacco !"


Wolverhampton newspaper (The town of Wolverhapton is in the county of Stafford or Stafforshire.) 1832: "A disgraceful scene was exhibited in Stafford market on Saturday week. A labouring man of idle and dissolute habits, Rodney HALL, residing at Dustan Heath, near Penkridge, led his wife into the town with a halter round her body, for the purpose of disposing of her in the public market to the best bidder. Having taken her into the Market Place and paid toll, he led her twice round the market, when he was met by a man named BARLOW, of the same class of life, who purchased her for eighteen-pence and a quart of ale, and she was formally delivered over to the purchaser. The parties then went to the Blue Posts Inn to ratify the transfer, followed by a considerable number of persons who had been attracted by the disgusting proceedings."


Wolverhampton newspaper (The town of Wolverhapton is in the county of Stafford or Stafforshire.) November 1837: "A strange and unwonted exhibition took place in Walsall market on Tuesday last. A man named George HITCHINSON brought his wife, Elizabeth HITCHINSON from Burntwood, for sale, a distance of eight or nine miles. They came into the market between ten and eleven o'clock in the morning, the woman being led by a halter, which was fastened, round her neck and the middle of her body. In a few minutes after their arrival she was sold to a man of the name of Thomas SNAPE a nailer, also from Burntwood. There were not many people in the market at the time. The purchase price was two shillings and sixpence, and all the parties seemed satisfied with the bargain. The husband was glad to get rid of his frail rib, who, it seems, had been living with SNAPE three years, at any time erroneously imagining that because he had brought her through a turnpike gate in a halter, and publicly sold her in the market before witnesses, that he is thereby freed from all responsibility and liability with regard to her future maintenance and support."


A Little Historiography

In her 2013 artlcle "The Moral and Legal Consequences of Wife Selling in The Mayor of Casterbridge" Julie C. Suk explores the tradition of wife selling in England at Oxford Scholarship Online. Her article appeared in Subversion and Sympathy: Gender, Law, and the British Novel, by Martha C. Nussbaum and Alison L. LaCroix.

Suk explains that there are 3 significant scholarly examinations of wife selling in 18C & 19C England: 1 by anthropologist, Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, & 2 by social historians, E. P. Thompson & Lawrence Stone. All these accounts have interpreted wife selling as a practice by which poor people got divorced, because the social & legal universe in these couples which lived lacked access to formal divorce. 

According to Menefee, most wife sales were usually planned in advance, involved 3 parties who already knew one another, & was welcomed by all the parties involved.  The typical wife sale of this period was one in which the husband would publicly sell his wife to a man with whom she was already having romantic relations.

Thompson interprets the sale of wives in 19C England as a ritual practiced by poor men & women who sought to improve their personal circumstances. Thompson identifies several features that were common to the  wife sales that occurred during this period:

First, the sale took place in an acknowledged marketplace. It was public; there was an audience. 

Second, the sale was usually planned, rather than spontaneous. It was sometimes announced publicly beforehand, either orally or through a public written notice. 

Third, it was often the case that the wife was brought to the marketplace with a halter around her neck. The halter enabled a physical transfer of the wife from the husband to the purchaser. 

Fourth, in the market, there usually was an auctioneer. Sometimes, the husband would act as auctioneer, but often, a 3rd party would do so. 

Fifth, there was an exchange of money. The purchaser often agreed not only to pay the price of the wife but also to buy a drink & the price of the halter. The husband would frequently return some small portion of the money as “luck money” to the purchaser. 

And finally, the actual moment of transfer was usually solemnized by an exchange of vows that resembled a marriage ceremony. The wife would then return her original wedding ring to her husband-seller.  

These common components tended to make the wife sale a ritual in rural working-class life, one that involved active & consensual participation by the husband-seller, the wife being sold, & the new-husband-purchaser. This ritual allowed the participants to perform a public divorce & new marriage during an era when legal institutions did not provide a method.

Stone noted that the wife sale in 18C & 19C England enabled poor married people to formalize amicable separations usually by mutual consent. Some parties saw the wife sale as a method of obliterating the legal & financial obligations of traditional marriage in the eyes of the community. As husbands were responsible for their wives’ debts during this period, the wife sale was a public expression of the man's intention not to be liable for the future debts incurred by the wife. In addition, the wife sale gave the woman some assurance, that the former husband would not raid her new home & seize all her goods & earnings, which by law would be his, if they were still married. In addition, the public separation enabled by the sale might deter the former husband from suing the new husband for criminal conversation, a civil cause of action available in England to a husband to recover damages from his wife's adulterous lover. Through the public sale, the 1st husband extracted a bribe from the wife's lover in return for waiving his civil cause of action for criminal conversation.

Samuel Pyeatt Menefee, Wives for Sale: An Ethnographic Study of British Popular Divorce 5 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1981).

Lawrence Stone, Road to Divorce: England 1530–1987 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 

Lawrence Stone, Uncertain Unions: Marriages in England 1660–1753 (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1992)

E. P. Thompson, Customs in Common (New York: New Press, 1993)

Additional Bibliography

Ashton, John (1899), Social England Under the Regency, Chatto and Windus


Ashton, John (1888), Modern Street Ballads, Chatto & Windus


Bryce, James (1901), Studies in history and jurisprudence, Volume II, Oxford University Press


Burn, John (2009) [1869], Burn's Justice of the Peace and Parish Officer: (V. 5a, 1869), Cornell University Library


Caine, Barbara; Sluga, Glenda (2002), Gendering European history: 1780–1920, Continuum


Chambers, Robert (1864), The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Popular Antiquities 1, W. & R. Chambers


Clark, Anna (1997), The Struggle for the Breeches: Gender and the Making of the British Working Class, University of California Press


Collins, Sophie (2007), A Sussex Miscellany, Snake River Press

Finlay, Henry Alan (2005), To have but not to hold (illustrated ed.), Federation Press

Gibson, Colin (1993), Dissolving Wedlock, Routledge


Gibson, James (1996), Thomas Hardy: A Literary Life, Palgrave Macmillan


Godbeer, Richard (2002), Sexual Revolution in Early America: Gender Relations in the American Experience, The Johns Hopkins University Press


Griffiths, John (1995), "Book review: E. P. Thompson: Customs in common", Journal of Legal Pluralism 


Hill, Bridget (1994), Women, Work & Sexual Politics in Eighteenth-century England


Jacob, W. M. (2002), Lay People and Religion in the Early Eighteenth Century, Cambridge University Press


Mansell, Wade; Meteyard, Belinda (2004), A Critical Introduction to Law (Third ed.), Routledge Cavendish


Pateman, Carole (1988), The Sexual Contract, Stanford University Press

Pobjoy, Harold Norman (1970), The History Of Emley – A West Riding Village, Ridings Publishing Company


Reach, Angus B. (1846), Douglas William Jerrold, ed., "The England of the French drama," Douglas Jerrold's shilling magazine (The Punch Office


Sokol, B. J.; Sokol, Mary (2003), Shakespeare, Law, and Marriage, Cambridge University Press


Woodbury, George (1951), The Great Days of Piracy, W. W. Norton & Company