The unusual survival of some letters, found with the marriage licence bond for Henry Bathurst and Frances Mackenzie, 14 July 1807, give us a rare insight into a mother in Scotland eagerly awaiting news of her daughter’s marriage in the parish of Thurne with Ashby and Oby, Norfolk. The letters were sent from Margaret Mackenzie, a widow of Edinburgh, to her son William Mackenzie, a surgeon in the militia who was stationed at Great Yarmouth, giving consent to her daughter’s marriage.
Frances needed her mother’s consent to marry as she was only 17 years old at the time and under the age of majority which was 21 years. In a letter, dated 6 July 1807, Margaret Mackenzie writes:
‘In Mrs Mackenzie’s letter to Jessy she did hint that a young Gentleman was paying particular attention to Fanny but I did not think much about it at the time not knowing she was serious – Yours of the 30th June mentioning all the particulars puts it beyond a doubt, and as you seem to have so high opinion of the young gentleman and at the same time agreeable to Fanny I do most freely give my consent to the marriage and sincerely wish the young couple health and happiness’. She goes on to request news of the wedding ceremony, ‘I expect you will write me all the particulars as soon as matters are properly settled and the day fixed. Let me know if Catherine or Frances wish to have any cloaths sent them.’
The parish marriage register for Thurne shows that Henry and Frances married a few days later on 16 July and that her brother, William Mackenzie, was a witness at their wedding.
In another letter from Mrs Mackenzie to William, dated 12 July, we also learn about her hope that her son’s regiment would soon go back to Scotland and about her health and family. Like Mrs Bennet in Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice (published only a few years after Frances Mackenzie’s wedding and which explores the social context of marriage at this time) it appears that news of her daughter’s marriage may have rapidly cured her mother’s aches and pains! Mrs Mackenzie writes, ‘I was complaining for a few days with a rheumatism in my head but I am now quite well again’.
You can view our holdings of the Norwich Archdeaconry marriage licence bonds through our online catalogue, NROCAT (http://nrocat.norfolk.gov.uk). Their main reference number is ANW/24 and you can search by the names of the marriage parties and by parish. Please note that images of the documents themselves are not on NROCAT.
Look out for other blogs containing tales from other marriage licence bonds!