CORT'S FIRST MARRIAGE
Henry Cort of this ph gentleman, & Miss Elizabeth Brown of the ph of St Giles in the Fields, in the County of Midx were married in this Church by Licence this (24th) day of April 1764 by me Wm Hoggart, Minister.
The marriage was solemnised between us in the Presence of
H. Charouneau (clerk)†††† James Gatland
From Crowhurst parish records at Surrey Record Office.
This record is unearthed by E.W. Hulme.
Hulme says both bride and groom give their ages as 22.
They could be lying.† If she is under 21, she would need permission from parent or guardian.
Does Henry lie about his age?† Could he be older?
One can't see why.† Implications for his date of birth are discussed on another page.
Mott must wonder if itís the same Henry Cort.
He checks Cort's signature against one on a later letter.
Seems a good match.†
So who is the bride, Miss Elizabeth Brown?
We can do little more than conjecture.
Mott thinks the title "Miss" might mean "some standing or wealth".
That's barely compatible with her parish of origin.
St. Giles in the Fields belonged to Middlesex in those days, but is now in the centre of London.† Centre Point is situated there.
It had a reputation for criminality, while the area around Seven Dials was apparently a red-light district.† I hope we can't draw conclusions about the bride from that.
My theory is that she is a relative of one of Cort's clients, several of whom are named Brown.
I am particularly drawn to Isabella Brown, widow of a ship's master, whose pension Cort is collecting near the start of his career, in 1759.† Does he develop an attachment to her daughter?
We know a little more about the witnesses.
In the affidavit he later prepares in defence against the suit brought by Coningsby Norbury's brother, Cort refers to a clerk called James Charronneau.
Since people's signatures aren't always easy to decipher, can we assume he is actually "H. Charouneau (clerk)"?
Gatland appears in the OGO as a bona fide resident of Crowhurst, baptised there in 1714.
How come the bridegroom is "of this parish", when he is know to he living in Crutched Friars, London?
Elsewhere we find the phrase "of this parish" used for covering up something unpalatable.
Matthew Boulton and Anne Robinson both of this parish were married in this church by Banns this twenty fifth day of June, one thousand seven hundred and sixty by me James Pinfold.
†From parish record of St Marys Rotherhithe, at London Metropolitan Archives.
John Beecher of this Parish Esq and Ann Haysham of the Parish of Stoke Alva in the Town of Gosport Spinster were Married in this Church by Licence this twenty sixth Day of September in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Sixty one by me John Durant.†††
† From Hagley parish records.
Take Matthew Boulton's second marriage.† He and his bride both live in Birmingham, yet they appear as residents of Rotherhithe.
She is the sister of his first wife.† A parson who knows this might be reluctant to marry them.
And her brother may object to Boulton scooping up so much of the family's inheritance.
So they have a motive for dissembling about where they live.
Presumably they can get away with it because the minister or one of the witnesses colludes with them.† A bit of bribery, perhaps?
As for the Becher-Haysham marriage, he comes from Bristol.
But if witness Thomas Smith, who lives in Hagley, is prepared to vouch for him, he can pose as a resident there.† Perhaps Smith has invited him to stay for a few weeks.
You may well wonder why he doesn't wish to marry in Bristol, or in his bride's home town of Gosport.
Date of marriage is 26 September 1761.
There is one account that dates the birth of their eldest son as 20 March 1762!
That isnít the official story.† At the joint christening of their first two children on 24 May 1764, the date given for the elderís birth is 26 June 1762.
Exactly nine months after the wedding!† Well, thatís what the parents want us to believe.
Why have they delayed the baptism for two years?† Something about the bride?
It has been estimated that 40% of eighteenth-century brides were pregnant.
From John Rule, Albion's People: English Society 1714-1815
And could that be the reason for Cortís first marriage being solemnised at Crowhurst, and him becoming ďof this parishĒ there?
Maybe clerk Charronneau is the one who arranges for the "residence".† Maybe Gatland helps.
What happens to the bride?
Only clue: the description "widower" for Henry Cort when he marries again four years later.
Most likely she was indeed pregnant at the time of the wedding.
Most likely she died in childbirth, along with the child.† Common enough in those days.
What effect would this have had on her husband?