Friday, May 11, 2012

Advise, Consent and Give Money Marriage 1910


Marriage place settings.  Marion Nicholson Hugh Blair 1913. Home-made and on the cheap.
I've completed my draft of Diary of a Confirmed Spinster the follow up to Threshold Girl.

It has to be typed and put into pdf.

As I turn to Marion's Story, I have marriage on my mind, 1910 marriage.

It's still considered cute today, on sitcoms at least, for men to ask the father of their intended for his consent to a marriage.

I've only heard of one or two real life people who did that.

I think Wolowitz did it on Big Bang. He got married to Bernadette yesterday. Not a bad episode, the wedding on the roof with Google Earth was cute. (It's hard to write an original marriage scene and that was fairly original.)
But I think I've figured out what a father's consent meant, at least in Canada in 1910, at least for the middle class. It meant the father would give money, a dowry, set the young couple up.

So when a father didn't give his consent, it didn't mean he didn't like the guy or want the daughter to marry, it meant he couldn't afford it.

This reality is at the heart of my story Diary of a Confirmed Spinster. Norman Nicholson, Edith's father would not even comment on her favorite, even when introduced to him. So in the book I have her beloved, Charlie, go to extremes to make money for marriage - and get killed. In real life he died in a fire at at Hotel in Cornwall, the Rossmore. His body was never identified.

As for Marion, well, she gets engaged in May 1913, a decision made only by the couple, although she has indeed 'asked' her father his opinion about her intended earlier in October 1912.

In June 1913 Edith writes to her Mother, saying she wishes father would write and give his FULL CONSENT as Marion has to tell her principal whether she wants her teaching job back the next year. And Hugh, her fiance, wants to start looking for a house.

Norman does write to Marion a long letter saying "He doesn't know what to say as he is dead broke."
Norman and Marion's fiance, Hugh Blair, come to some agreement and I have a letter from Hugh saying he as received whatever  and thank you. (In letters, if someone is thanking someone for money, it is never spelled out.)

Hugh also asks for something from his own father (not sure what) and the father writes a jolly letter back but never mentioning Marion or the marriage.

Hugh's parents do not attend the wedding in October in Richmond.

I also have a marriage contract, drawn up in Richmond a few days before the wedding, saying that Marion brings nothing to the marriage but her clothes and wedding presents.

So if she leaves Hugh, he keeps the furniture.

In 1910 In Canada, marriage was still a financial contract, although like Marion and Hugh, couples in love could get married without consent and suffer the consequences. Hugh had to go out into business on his own as a lumber merchant. He got shut out the family business, for a while at least.

The ideal marriage is where a man with prospects and education, although perhaps no money of his own, married a woman whose dowry could set him up in life and business. My own grandfather married 1901 was an example. He was Jules Crepeau and Assistant City Clerk in Montreal in 1901. He married the daughter of a master butcher, who brought if my mother is correct, 40,000 to the marriage. (Hard to believe, although Master Butchers were prominent citizens. The woman he married also had prominent connections, a Monsigneur and such.)

So what if they spent their marriage throwing crockery at each other.
Hugh and Edith
From what I see the Nicholson marriage was on the cheap. 6.65 for a cake and a few dollars for material and new shoes for outfits from Hudon's.
Love and Marriage
Dear Sir,
I wish to consult you on a subject that deeply interests me while it indirectly concerns you and I hope that my presentation of the matter will meet with your approval.
For sometime past your daughter Marion and I have been on intimate terms of friendship which has developed into affection on my part, and I have reason to believe my intentions are not indifferent to her, so I would therefore request your consent to our marriage.
Yours sincerely, Hugh Christian Blair (PIC BELOW: Marion draws her ring!)