I first got the idea for this post when I saw Bob Nicholson’s post on Twitter here. It amused me so much that I thought I’d do my own collection of ridiculous matrimonial advertisements over the years.
For those who didn’t bother to click the link, Bob Nicholson’s ad reads:
‘THE ADVERTISER, who is a young man of 26, good looking, height 5 ft 9 in, very dark, mother dead, salary £350 per annum, is desirous of meeting with a companion of his own age’. (1886).
The italicized ‘mother dead‘ as the major selling point cracks me up. The other ads read as follows:
-The advertiser wants a wife with ‘good teeth, soft lips, sweet breath… neat in her person, her bosom full, plump, firm and white; a good understanding without being a wit, but cheerful and lively in conversation, polite and delicate of speech’ (Daily Advertiser 1750).
– ‘Marriage. The advertiser wishes to meet with a young woman who has but one leg’. (Shoreditch Observer 1863).
-‘A young man wants a wife with two or three hundred pounds; or the money will do with- out the wife: whoever will advance it shall have five per cent’. (Daily Advertiser 1759).
-The advertiser wishes to get married because he ‘finds it inconvenient to leave his house to servants [in his will]‘ (1770).
-‘Gentleman advanced in years, who is possessed of a considerable fortune, the apparent heir to which (a graceless nephew) has treated him in a manner unpardonable … would be glad to enter into the connubial state with a healthy pregnant widow, of a reputation unsullied, however contracted her sphere of life be’ (Hibernian Telegraph 1788).
-‘Wanted, a Husband. Points for an ideal husband are enumerated as follows by Catherine Louisa Stack, a nurse aged 50, who is advertising for a husband in the Philadelphia papers: – Must be well dressed; must earn more than £5 a week; can have dogs but no children; any colour hair except red; no naggers need apply; must not be fresh from Ireland.’ (Lancashire Evening Post, 29 Nov. 1920).
-‘A Bill for a Wife – Matrimony. – Charles Warren, Marnhall, Dorset. – My family is as follows: the eldest boy is 13 years old – the younger boy 4 years old – and a girl 8 years old. My house is my own, and have no rent to pay. I have an acre of potatoes, half blues and half whites, this year. my wife has been dead 12 months’ ago, last Shroton Fair – the children live with themselves in the daytime, bu I am always at home with them at night. I do think that it would be better if there was a woman to look after them, both for the children and myself. I have got 9s. a week for my work; and the boy 2s. a week, and have constant employ. I want a good stead woman, between 30 and 40 years old, for a wife. I do not want a second family. I want a woman to look after the pigs while I am out at work.’ (July 1832).
-‘I heareby give notice to all unmarried women that I, John Hobnail, am at this writing five and forty, a widower, and in want of a wife. As I wish no one to be mistaken, I have a good cottage with a couple of acres of land, for which I pay2l. a year. I have five children, four of them old enough to be in employment; three sides of bacon and some pigs ready for market. I should like to have a woman fit to take care of her house when I am out. I want no second family. She may be between 40 and 50 if she likes. A good sterling woman would be preferred, who would take care of the pigs.’
-‘A student of three years’ standing at a German university wished to marry after taking his degree. He is desirous of finding a young lady who will advance him money to pay the sum necessary to finish his university career. Thus bound to his fate, she would, after two or three years, become his wife.’ (Bedfordshire Times and Independent 4 Aug. 1863).
-‘Mrs Betsy Pennick, of Tiptree, Essex, who is aged 106, is looking for a husband with a good financial position. He must be of middle age. She does not want a man of the modern class, but one of the type she used to meet in the “good old Victorian days.”‘ (Dundee Courier 01 Nov. 1924).
-‘WANTED a WIFE, by a handsome young FARMER who is desirous of becoming domesticated, and of enjoying the society of a young, good-tempered female, who would tempt him away from his market festivities by her pleasing and gently persuasive manners. She must not exceed 20, unless she be a widow, whose family must not exceed six. Want of beauty would be no kind of objection, provided she possessed from 1,000l. to 2,000l. His rent, tithes, and taxes are all paid up, and he is wholly free from debt. All that he requires is love, peace, and happiness.’