An Unusual Sale —-Selling Your Wife?

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Almonte Gazette 1882

One day last week a  man in Ottawa whose marital relations were not of the most pleasant kind resolved to save the expense of an Act of Parliament to sever the marriage tie and sold his wife to a young man in the Pontiac for ten dollars. Now the purchaser has been advised that he is heir to several thousand dollars in England. Moral: Purchase a wife if you want a fortune.

 

What?

wife sell ipn 21 oct 99

The English custom of wife selling largely began in the late 17th century when divorce was a practical impossibility for all but the very wealthy. In the ritualized form, after parading his wife with a halter around her neck, arm, or waist, a husband would publicly auction her to the highest bidder. Although the custom had no basis in law and frequently resulted in prosecution, particularly from the mid-19th century onwards, the attitude of the authorities was equivocal.

 

At least one early 19th-century magistrate is on record as stating that he did not believe he had the right to prevent wife sales, and there were cases of local Poor Law Commissioners forcing husbands to sell their wives, rather than having to maintain the family in workhouses. The English custom of wife selling spread to Wales, Scotland, Australia, and the United States before dying out in the early 20th century.

Paint Your Wagon was reality!

 

 

 

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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