Wife offering in England had been a means of closing an unsatisfactory wedding by ‘mutual’ and ‘not so mutual’ contract began within the belated seventeenth century, whenever divorce proceedings was a practical impossibility for many nevertheless the really wealthiest. The comparable cost of receiving a divorce in those times will be ?20,000.00 at todays prices.

After parading their spouse at a general public market by having a halter around her throat, supply, or waistline, the spouse would publicly auction her into the bidder that is highest, frequently utilizing the solutions of an auctioneer.

Wife offering persisted in England in certain kind before the very very early twentieth century; in line with the jurist and historian James Bryce, composing in 1901, spouse sales remained periodically occurring during his 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 widespread belief that a guy could legitimately divorce their spouse by placing a halter around her throat and leading her become offered available on the market on a reasonable time. In some instances it was a comparatively civilized arrangement amongst the spouse, wife and her fan, all three conference amicably afterward for a glass or two. Various other instances the spouse could be ‘sold’ to an overall total stranger when it comes to bid that is highest.

The training of ‘wife selling’ wasn’t strictly appropriate but shot to popularity one of the bad as an answer up to a negative wedding. The legal authorities turned a blind eye in the early days. The training became more unpopular with its second phases and had been increasingly stamped down on the courts and may involve upto half a year in jail.

Some situations of Wife Offering

Chipping Norton

The training continued in rural areas as belated since the century that is mid-nineteenth. In 1855, at Chipping Norton within the Cotswolds, a guy offered his wife for ?25.00, a substantial quantity since the minimum cost expected had been 25 pence. The wife selling practice was no longer considered respectable by the townspeople by this time. For three evenings operating the buyer and their brand new ‘bride’ were afflicted by ‘rough music’, a conventional rural punishment for intimate misdemeanors in which the victims could be assailed by a cacophony of discordant noise 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 straight right back.


In 1760 Gloucestershire magistrates heard the full instance of a lady that has hitched into the 1740s. She along with her spouse would not simply take long to part in the form of a spouse purchase in Gloucester. Her brand new spouse ended up being a coal miner, Nicholas browse, whom took her to Bath, where these people were hitched “by one parson Crey, a lawless minister here. “

Because of the 1790s, the training had become therefore extensive it was the niche of editorial comment. “As cases of the purchase of spouses have actually of belated usually occured one of the lower classes of individuals who start thinking about such sales lawful, we think it straight to notify that, by dedication for the courts of legislation, in a reign that is former these people were announced unlawful and void, and considered (when you look at the light of which faith must see them) merely a pretense to sanction the criminal activity of adultery. ” The finish associated with the Napoleonic Wars was additionally a specially busy time.


The initial instance that is recorded of trade of money for releasing a spouse through the responsibilities of their wedding originates from Bilston (near Wolverhampton, Birmingham), into the 1690s, when “John son of Nathan Whitehouse of Tipton, offered their spouse to Mr Bracegirdle. “

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

By the very early century that is eighteenth recommendations to wife product product product sales were finding their means in to the press. The Annual Register carried the following account in August 1733.


“Three males and three ladies, went along to the Bell Inn in Edgbaston-street, Birmingham, making the following entry in the cost guide that is held there: –

Samuel Whitehouse, regarding the parish of Willenhall, into the county of Stafford, offered their spouse, Mary Whitehouse, into the open market, to Thomas Griffiths, of Birmingham. Value, one guinea. To just take her along with her faults.


In 1820 a ‘decent-looking guy’ led their erring spouse into the cattle market of Canterbury and when the autioneer declined to auction her very very first he hired a pen that is cattle keep her in until she was ultimately auctioned for five shillings (25 pence in todays money).