I just finished reading Unquiet Lives: Marriage and Marriage Breakdown in England, 1660–1800, by Joanne Bailey. There were more statistics than I wanted, and less details about individual court cases/newspaper ads/etc., but I learned a lot of fascinating stuff. Overall, I think what I learned is that separations were not that uncommon, and neither was cohabitation or even remarriage after a separation. I’m going to be posting some of the most interesting cases/plot bunnies…
[trigger warning: references to domestic violence]
The fact that their [local clergymen’s] remit included reconciling warring couples is highlighted by the church court prosecution of the curate John Turner in 1706, which claimed that ‘[you] doth breed strife and sedition amongst your Neighbors and very often between Man and Wife by adviseing them to part from one another (whereas by your holy office you should be a peace maker…)’
[…]Edward Bearparke complained[…]Turner had endeavored to widen a breach between him and his wife, by telling her to procure a warrant from a justice of the peace against him [which would require him to appear in court for “mediation, usually between wives and violent husbands or husbands who refused to contribute to the domestic economy”]. She probably saw this somewhat differently.
1. Bearparke is my new favorite name and I WILL be using it.
2. I’d love to read a romance with a separation- and warrant-encouraging curate as the hero! Who should the heroine be?