Wife offering in England ended up being an easy method of closing a marriage that is unsatisfactory ‘mutual’ and ‘not so mutual’ contract began within the belated seventeenth century, whenever divorce or separation had been a practical impossibility for many nevertheless the really wealthiest. The comparable price of finding a breakup then though will be ?20,000.00 at todays rates.

After parading their spouse at a general general public market having a halter around her throat, supply, or waistline, the spouse would publicly auction her towards the greatest bidder, usually utilising the solutions of an auctioneer.

Wife offering persisted in England in a few kind before the very early century that is 20th in line with the jurist and historian James Bryce, composing in 1901, spouse product sales were still periodically occurring during their time. A woman giving evidence in a Leeds (city in West Yorkshire) police court in 1913 claimed that she had been sold to one of her husband’s workmates for ?1 in one of the last reported instances of a wife sale in England.

The extensive belief that a guy could legitimately divorce their spouse by placing a halter around her throat and leading her become sold in the marketplace on a reasonable time. In some instances this is a comparatively civilized arrangement between your spouse, wife and her fan, all three conference amicably afterward for a glass or two. In other instances the spouse will be ‘sold’ to an overall total complete stranger for the bid that is highest.

The training of ‘wife selling’ wasn’t strictly appropriate but became popular one of the poor as an answer up to a marriage that is bad. The legal authorities turned a blind eye in the early days. The training became more unpopular with its second phases and ended up being increasingly stamped down on the courts and may include upto half a year in jail.

Some situations of Wife Attempting To Sell

Chipping Norton

The training continued in rural areas as belated given that mid-nineteenth century. A man sold his wife for ?25.00, a generous amount as the minimum price expected was 25 pence in 1855, at Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds. By this time around the spouse selling practice had been no further considered respectable by the townspeople. For three nights operating the buyer and their brand new ‘bride’ were afflicted by ‘rough music’, a normal rural punishment for intimate misdemeanors in which the victims will be assailed with a cacophony of discordant sound and ribald verses. A straw effigy of the man was burnt outside his house on the third night. He eventually gave in and paid the husband that is original simply simply take their spouse right right straight back.


In 1760 Gloucestershire magistrates heard the situation of a lady that has hitched within the 1740s. She and her spouse didn’t take very long to part in the shape of a spouse purchase in Gloucester. Her brand brand new spouse ended up being a coal miner, Nicholas study, who took her to Bath, where these were hitched “by one parson Crey, a lawless minister here. “

Because of the 1790s, the training had become so widespread it was the niche of editorial comment. “As cases of the purchase of spouses have actually of belated usually occured among the list of reduced classes of individuals who give consideration to such sales lawful, we think it straight to inform that, by dedication regarding the courts of legislation, in a reign that is former these people were announced unlawful and void, and considered (into the light of which faith must see them) merely a pretense have a glimpse at the website to sanction the criminal activity of adultery. ” The conclusion associated with Napoleonic Wars was additionally a especially busy time.


The initial recorded example of a change of cash for releasing a spouse through the responsibilities of their wedding originates from Bilston (near Wolverhampton, Birmingham), within the 1690s, when “John son of Nathan Whitehouse of Tipton, offered their spouse to Mr Bracegirdle. “

Shortly a short while later a person had been presented into the Thame church court for cohabitation with another’s spouse. The lb. Throughout the proceedingss it arrived on the scene that he had “bought another’s wife” off her spouse at 21/4 pence”

By the early century that is eighteenth sources to spouse product product product sales had been finding their means to the press. The Annual Register carried the after account in August 1733.

“Three males and three females, decided to go to the Bell Inn in Edgbaston-street, Birmingham, making the following entry in the cost guide that is kept there: –

Samuel Whitehouse, associated with parish of Willenhall, within the county of Stafford, offered their spouse, Mary Whitehouse, within the market that is open to Thomas Griffiths, of Birmingham. Value, one guinea. To simply take her along with her faults.


In 1820 a ‘decent-looking guy’ led their erring spouse into the cattle market of Canterbury when the autioneer declined to auction her first he hired a pen that is cattle keep her in until she ended up being sooner or later auctioned for five shillings (25 pence in todays cash).