Sometimes, when trawling through historical records, a researcher comes across personal stories that seem destined for Hollywood. Take this dramatic tale of romance triumphing against all the odds, featuring sexually-charged teenage servants, illegimate pregnancy, forced separation, triple bigamy, a few deaths, and a gouty clergyman in a sedan chair. All in that world-renowned town of passion and enchantment… Bicester.
Before I offer a summary of events, take a deep breath and…:
– Oxford Journal, Saturday 3 May 1766
So, the script runs thus:
– Plucky young Buckinghamshire barmaid Elizabeth Smith [interesting that she is the only party named in this story] falls pregnant, and also falls for one of her fellow servants (it is unclear in what order these two events occur).
– Although he is under age (then 21) the couple wed, only to be cruelly wrenched apart by his somewhat unimpressed friends and their respect for the recently-introduced marriage law.
– She embarks upon a friendless journey…
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