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Saturday, 6 June 2020

A Jilted Bridegroom in Court: 52 Ancestors - Week 23

"Weddings" is the theme of this week's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge. What to choose?  I have written about family weddings down the decades many times in nearly  ten years of blogging.   So I decided to feature something a bit different - not an ancestral tale, but an entertaining account from 1871 of a  court case involving a Jilted  Bridegroom, as reported in  many newspapers across the country. 

A Breach of Promise of Marriage with a difference - for the innocent party here, is the jilted bridegroom, not the bride.

I came across this item by chance  in "The Border Advertiser" 18th March 1871 and  it made fascinating reading.  So here is a summary of a lengthy article. 

"In the Court of Common Pleas an extra-ordinary action for breach of promise was heard.  The plaintiff in the case Lewis Currie sued his cousin Mary Margaret Davidson Currie  and in his declaration alleged that they had during the infancy of the defendant  agreed to marry one another, and that after she became of age they duly ratified  and endorsed the promise.  Yet the defendant had refused to marry him. 
With regard to the young lady, she was possessed of considerable personal attractiveness and,  beyond that,  a dowry of £6000.  There had been a considerable correspondence between the couple, with letters read out in court to much laughter.  The defendant addressing her fiance as "My dearest George", and signing herself "Ever yours, dearest George - Yours till Death" before winding up  most appropriately with a bit of poetry.  Other  letters declared "Since you left, I care for nothing. I live for you".   "Oh my own very darling George.  I have given you my heart and with it my first and only love.  With heaps of love and millions of kisses, I remain my darling George, yours ever" 

The defendant, however, related also that at a the house of a recently married friend, she had met a young Spaniard who expressed the wish "to be the happy fellow in her locket".  
 Wedding Dress - 1879
In further correspondence with her fiance George, she talked of being married in white silk and the 19th of January was fixed on for the wedding.  On that day the defendant married  - but not to the plaintiff (more laughter in  court).

On the 3rd of January she wrote to the defendant breaking off the engagement on  the grounds that "we are not in any way suited to one another".  She refused to meet the plaintiff who, the court was told,  had spent  £400  in preparing a residence for his new bride.  

The defendant became the wife of Mr J. Fernandez Martini on 19th January 1871 with the certificate of marriage presented to the court.  It was noted that he was in business partnership with a man who had borrowed money from the plaintiff.

It was acknowledged that the defendant had wronged the plaintiff, but no action of this kind brought by a man should be encouraged.
The jury after deliberating the matter for an hour found in favour of the defendant with damages awarded of £250."

This case reminds me so much of the Gilbert & Sullivan's comic operetta "Trial by Jury".  What would they have made of this reversal in roles?

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  1. Thanks, Pauleen - that is what I love about browsing through old newspapers, , there can be such fascinating and quirky finds.


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