From the Blushing Bride to Bigamy in the Archives!

As the nation prepares for the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine [Kate] Middleton on 29th April 2011, the West Yorkshire Archive Service celebrates the happy event with a display on marriage and its pitfalls in West Yorkshire.

From marriage licences and banns to wedding dresses and anniversaries, the display, which will be on in all five of the Service’s offices throughout April, illiustrates weddings in past times.

Photograph of Alice on her wedding day, 1910, part of the Phyllis Bentley Collection

As the world waits for the first glimpse of the royal wedding dress, the display reveals that white was not always the chosen traditional colour. Blue was popular due to its association with the Virgin Mary; yellow, once considered an’ unholy colour’, became popular in the 18th century; pink was popular due to its association with girlhood;  green was seen as unlucky by some as it was associated with fairies and brown was usually reserved for the poor rural wedding. It was Queen Victoria who set a precedent for all brides to follow when she wore a white silk dress for her wedding in 1840.

Bigamy it seems has been a problem through the ages with two such examples being shown in the display.  In 1676 Edward Thornton and Mary Ibberson asked a widow, Elizabeth Armytage to drink ale with them before going  onto the house of a Mr Mower. Later that night he married Edward and Mary with Elizabeth as witness, even though they were both already married! William Powell of Wakefield was found guilty of bigamy in 1834, he married 3 women in 12 years, all of whom were still alive. He was committed to be transported for seven years, which at least meant he didn’t have to face their wrath!

WYAS collects a diverse range of records created by a variety of individuals, groups or businesses. If you would like to discuss the possibility of depositing records or would like to give feedback on the types of records that you would like to see, please contact the Collections Team.

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