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For Sale, By Auction: One Wife

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26136764

5. Opposites attract

Size doesn't matter. Newlyweds Mr and Mrs Hedley could have told you that. He was more than 6ft tall. She was 32 inches high.

They married in South Shields in 1891, in a scene that could have been plucked from the sweat-drenched dream of a malarial vicar. The bridesmaids were a 44-stone American and a performing "fire queen" called Satanella. The best man was 7ft 10in. One of the guests was 29 inches tall. All the wedding party were from a "menagerie circus" which was travelling the country.

6. For sale, by auction: One wife

Wife auction drawing which appeared in the Illustrated Police News in 1870.

Sometimes, it just doesn't work out. The spark goes, the flame flickers, the fire dies - whichever combustible cliche you favour, love has a regrettable habit of fizzling out.

But for everyone bar the wealthiest men in Victorian Britain, divorce was out of the question. That may explain, if not excuse, why a navvy in Stacksteads, Lancashire who'd grown tired of married life, reverted to an old English custom.

He offered up his wife for auction to the highest bidder, staging the sale - as an additional insult - at the home they'd shared together.

"Despite Solomon's testimony as to a woman being more precious than rubies, and notwithstanding that the spectators were numerous, the highest offer was only 4d. [4p]," said the Sheffield and Rotherham Independent in 1879.

"The seller wanted to 'throw in' three children, but the buyer objected, and the bairns were left on hand. The wife, however, went joyfully to the home of her new owner, and seemed to be quite glad to get away from her late liege lord as he was to part with her."

And the buyer? His next-door neighbour.

4d :lol: I wonder if he found the money on the street for the purchase?

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Wife auctions were once very common. Have a read of Thomas Hardy novels. I think 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' points out the pitfalls. Similar things in some 19th Century American period novels also.

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Wife auctions were once very common. Have a read of Thomas Hardy novels. I think 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' points out the pitfalls. Similar things in some 19th Century American period novels also.

Aha, too late to be the one to point to Hardy. :mellow:

But isn't "common" a bit of an exaggeration? In Hardy's story IIRC it happens in a moment of drunken rage near the beginning of the story, and thereafter casts a shadow over him as shameful and disreputable: a classic skeleton in the cupboard.

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Wife auctions were once very common. Have a read of Thomas Hardy novels. I think 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' points out the pitfalls. Similar things in some 19th Century American period novels also.

Why does the buyer turn up wanting a refund? :D

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