19th July 1685. ‘Love and Marriage go Together …

As the 1950s Pop-Song went: It continued: ‘Like a Horse and Carriage…’

Today in 1685 a message in John Houghton’s, ‘Journal for Farmers and Trades’, might constitute one of the first dating adverts.

It reads: ‘A gentleman about 30 years of age …would willingly match himself to some good young gentlewoman who has a fortune of 3000l [pounds] or thereabout.’

At a time when a carpenter earned 2 shillings daily, this fortune amounted to £250,000 in current money.

As Houghton said: ‘I have undertaken to advertize all sorts of things that are honourable ..I am well paid for it.’


Marriage Agencies run by clergymen, no doubt good for clerical income, were introduced in the 18thc in England and Wales. In 1799 a Provincial Public Publication announced that a ‘marriage plan is proposed for every county, city and town in England and Wales.’

It advertised that: ‘Every person of either sex who desires to enter into a treaty of marriage is to subscribe a certain sum. All could describe themselves with real or fictitious names as they may.’

There were 3 classes: an example from No.2: ‘A gent of 40, a little corpulent with dark brown complexion, wearing a wig, with a place in customs, and small estate in Suffolk, worth 750l [pounds], reasonably well tempered and at times very lively… religion of his fathers.’

Wedding about time of

Wedding about time of Matrimonial News 1870.

The Matrimonial News which ran from 1870 to 1895, cost 6d [pence] was the first in the field, and by 1900 there were 20 newspapers devoted to looking for a partner.

Other publications were The Marriage Gazette and Matrimonial Times. In the 20thc we see the growth of The marriage Bureau, and nowadays it’s all On-line.

Ref: bbc.co.uk.news/magazine.14.2.2013.Image Ref.

Ref: express.co.uk/history of lonely hearts.Image Ref.

Ref: Agricultural Periodicals of Britain. 1681-1900. F.A. Buttress, Cambridge, 1950.

Ref: en.wikipedia.org/dating_agencies.

Ref: New Marriage Plan. Spirit of the Age 1799. Jones, London, 1805,p 329-31.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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