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  • Wendy Percival

Bride equality, 19th century style

I was researching the Percival side of the family the other day and noticed that on the 1850 marriage record of Eliza Willsher and William Percival, Eliza's occupation was recorded. It struck me that this was unusual, that it's generally only the bridegroom whose "rank or profession" appears on the marriage certificate and the bride is largely ignored.

The occupation of bride, Eliza Willsher, is recorded as "laceworker"

Out of interest, I looked through all my collection of marriage certificates and found only one other occasion where the bride's occupation has been noted. It was not, as you might imagine, on a recent certificate, but on one from 1838 in Bathwick, when it was noted that Catherine Banner Evans, the bride of Richard Mott Viner, was a straw bonnet maker.


The occupation of bride, Catherine Banner Evans is recorded as "straw bonnet maker".

Although I have a paper copy of the original marriage certificate, the image of it appears on Ancestry, along with other Bathwick marriage records. When I browsed through these, I noticed that several records noted the bride's occupation but only when the curate, Edward Boyle, had officiated at the wedding.


This could only have been on Edward Boyle's own initiative, as no other minister of St Mary's Church included such information. So, who was Edward Boyle, this apparent "quiet campaigner" of bride equality? I'm on a mission to discover something about him. Watch this space!





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