Widows Re-marrying

  • 15 Dec 2018
  • Social & Entertainment
  • Back

It was the practice in some parts of requiring widows, on re-marrying, to pay a fine to the Crown, but by the mid-19th century, it had become a thing of the past. Berrow's Worcester Journal reported a re-marriage at St Swithin's Church, Worcester in 1775, which points to the acceptance of another 'legal' practise;

A widow, being married again, to exempt her future husband from payment of any debts she might have contracted, went into one of the pews and stript herself of all her clothes except her shirt, in which only  she went  to the Altar, and was married, much to the astonishment of the Parson, Clerk etc.

This however, was not such an unusual event, for the Staffordshire Mirror for January 1798, stated:

There is an opinion generally prevalent that if a woman should marry a man in distressed circumstances, none of the creditors can touch her property if she should be in 'puris naturalibus'  (pure natural) while the ceremony is performed.

It goes onto record that 'at the church of Birmingham, a woman came to the church in a large cloak and when the priest was ready at the altar, she threw off the cloak and in an exact state of Eve in Paradise, walked deliberately to the spot and remained in that state till the end of the ceremony'.