Author Topic: A Hired Marriage ?  (Read 496 times)

Offline MaecW

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A Hired Marriage ?
« on: Saturday 02 December 17 09:44 GMT (UK) »
In the registers of a Shropshire parish I came across the following entry :

1773 June 13th. John the son of Mary Humphries (but by a hired marriage solemnised the 11th March last at St. Martin's Church in Birmingham between her & Benjamin Hardwick of Bitterly) now Mary Hardwick, was baptised.

I presume that this was a marriage by proxy because Benjamin was willing to "do the decent" but, for some reason, was unable to return from Birmingham in reasonable time. It seems a sensible arrangement but I was not aware that it was possible. Was it common, and when did the practice cease ?

Maec
Baron (of Blackburn), Chadwick (Oswaldtwistle), Watkins (Swansea), Jones (x3 Swansea), Colton (Shropshire), Knight (Shropshire/Montgomery) , Bullen (Norfolk), White (Dorset)

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Offline arthurk

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Re: A Hired Marriage ?
« Reply #1 on: Saturday 02 December 17 11:16 GMT (UK) »
Birmingham parish registers can be seen at Ancestry, and contain the marriage entry referred to. There's nothing to indicate that anything irregular took place, though it was by licence rather than banns. Benjamin Hardwick was of Bitterley, Shropshire, and Mary Humphries "of this parish"; he signed, she made a mark. One of the witnesses was called Hardwick.

One possibility is that they married in a bit of a hurry in a distant town (not particularly unusual), but the vicar in Bitterley was miffed because he wasn't involved so decided to be rude about it. Is there any evidence that he wrote similar things about other couples?

However, in a strange town, with a licence to marry, it might be possible that Benjamin got someone else to pretend to be Mary. Was Mary really of Birmingham, or just living there temporarily? Did someone in Bitterley have evidence that she was there rather than Birmingham on 11 March?

It might be worth tracking down the licence - it's unlikely to say anything about the marriage ceremony itself, but it could shed a bit more light on the couple's backgrounds and which scenario might be more likely.
Researching among others:
Bartle, Bilton, Campbell, Craven, Emmott, Harcourt, Hirst, Kellet(t), Kennedy,
Meaburn, Mennile/Meynell, Metcalf(e), Palliser, Robinson, Rutter, Shipley, Stow, Wilkinson

Census information is Crown Copyright, from www.nationalarchives.gov.uk

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Offline LibbyJ

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Re: A Hired Marriage ?
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 08 April 18 09:55 BST (UK) »
I have just come across this too. Mary Humphries was from Wheathill and Loughton Parish in Shropshire. She'd previously had an illegimate son (William) in 1771. So they must have lied when they got married. Intriguing! Could "hired marriage" be a euphemism for living together or perhaps she was a mistress who he kept?

Interestingly a Mary Hardwick then marries in Wheathill in 1782. All other people in the register are stated to be bachelor/spinster/widowed but her status is not given. Perhaps the Rector had some doubts about it since it's the same one who wrote the Baptism record (or was perhaps just being disapproving and rude again).

I love it when you get more flesh on the bones of an individual than just birth, marriage, children, death.