The lives, loves and personal tragedies of people whom history has forgotten are brought under the searchlight through a study of 19th and early 20th century breach of promise of marriage cases. From legal records, newspaper reports and birth, marriage and death and census records, the author has brought back to life the personal stories of women, who felt betrayed and deserted. More
From dry and dusty legal papers and yellowing newspaper reports, the author brings back to life the personal tragedies of women deserted by the person she thought would love and protect them. The consequencies for women in the 19th century could be devastating for women for whom marriage was very often the only path out of a life of stultifying boredom and despair. It took a very brave woman to make her case public and go to court, particularly in the first half of the 19th century. As the century progressed disquiet was raised about female "gold diggers". The 20th century saw the slow emancipation of women and it was felt that they no longer needed the protection of the law as more and more women developed independent lifestyles that did not include marriage. However, it was not until the 1980s that breach of promise of marriage was removed from the statute book in Scotland. The cases cover the length and breadth of Scotland from Wick in Caithness to Greenlaw in Berwickshire. All social classes are represented from decadent aristocrats to love lorn cleaning ladies. Through the medium of breach of promise of marriage cases the range of human emotions are put on display and the social history and manners of Scotland in the 19th century are opened up to us. Most of all it is the story of Scotland's people who for a brief moment gave us an opportunity to shine a light on their lives and loves.