Until Annulment Do Us Part: Divorce and Annulment in the Regency Era

So the last chapter of Desire and Decorum, was really bothering me. In it it you, the main character, discovers that you were not illegitimate as your parents were married, but that they were annulled before you were born. Your father still wants to write you into the will but I’m questioning the whole legality of it all.

So I decided it was time to do some research and see if I could find some answers.

Before the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 divorces had to go through the Church and Parliament. The church would only give legal separation, while if you wanted a real divorce in order to remarry you would need to go through Parliament as well. Parliament divorces were very, very expensive and you had to take legal action in a three courts: ecclesiastical (church), common-law court, and finally Parliament.

No amount of money could give you a quiet divorce, as any divorce was a huge scandal as newspapers would play it up. And it would be a stain on both spouses’ characters, although men would get over it must faster (think of Maria Bertram-Rushworth in Mansfield Park).

So we know divorce was difficult, but what about an annulment? I had to keep digging.

I can’t stop myself.

The church occasionally did some annulments in certain cases. The annulments were only granted if the marriage wasn’t consummated (they didn’t sleep together), a man married his dead wife’s sister (it was seen as too close to a relative although marrying your first cousin was alright 🤷🏻‍♀️ ), or if it turned out one of the couple had committed bigamy.

So none of those reasons would apply here for the game as the character’s mother was pregnant (obviously they consummated), no previous marriage had taken place to invoke a “too close relationship”, and there was no bigamy. Of course the grandpa could have said that she was sleeping around, but that wouldn’t grant his son an annulment he would have had to be granted a divorce and the game was specific to annulment. It was clear, more digging must be done.

Annulment by not consummating the relationship was really hard to prove. More often then not either the husband or wife had to be examined and declared impotent. This rarely happened as it had to be proven by a medical examination, which as I’m sure as you can imagine, very few people would succumb to having.

Annulments could also be granted if there was an error in name on the marriage certificate, they were too young and married without parental consent (they would have to go to Gretna Greene to do that), or if they were deceived as to who they were marrying. All of which don’t apply here.

Hmm…

Insanity was another route for annulment but it was very tricky to prove (and still is today) as one would have to prove that the person was insane at the time of the marriage. For instance look at the case of Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre, as he didn’t suspect she was crazy in the beginning (her family hid it well) he can never get a divorce or annulment and instead has to live with a crazy woman who is constantly trying to kill him. Also most families would fight this route as being named insane would taint an entire family and family line as well.

If a woman’s marriage was annulled, she was reduced from the status of wife to concubine, and any children the couple had were declared illegitimate. So that tracks right in the game, as my character is still illegitimate. But could an illegitimate inherit? And I still haven’t figured out how the grandfather had them annulled.

Hmmm…

So I did some more digging and discovered that if a couple was annulled the woman would have a ruined reputation and:

“Also, any children of an annulled marriage become bastards (who cannot inherit or be declared legitimate at the whim of the peer) and likewise outcasts of society.”

Kristen Kostner, “A Primer on Regency Divorce and Annulments,” Kristen Kostner (blog), entry posted October 11, 2018, accessed July 22, 2021,

So it looks like that plot point in the last chapter is impossible. The MC/Catherine would never be able to inherit, even with my father writing me into the will. The only way I could would be if I was to prove that the annulment never legally took place and my stepmother’s marriage is invalid.

This does kind of kill the spirit of the game for me as it only took me a day to research this, which any of their staff could have easily done. But maybe there are more twists coming, I guess I’ll just have to keep playing to find out.

Hmm…?

Sources:

Field, Alina K. "10 Facts about Marriage and Divorce in Historical England." Simply Romance (blog). Entry posted September 16, 2014. Accessed July 22, 2021.

Grace, Maria. "Divorce, Regency style." English History Authors (blog). Entry posted January 11, 2017. Accessed July 22, 2021.

Hatch, Donna. "Annulments, Separations, Divorce and Scandal." Historical Hussies (blog). Entry posted May 3, 2013. Accessed July 22, 2011

Kostner, Kristen. "A Primer on Regency Divorce and Annulments." Kristen Kostner (blog). Entry posted October 11, 2018. Accessed July 22, 2011

For more on the Regency era, go to Modesto Jane Con: Dressing the Regency Lady

Jane Austen Birthday Party Music & Party Review

So we are almost done with going over my Jane Austen 29th Birthday Party planning.

Party time!

This is the very last post as we have reviewed everything there is to review, except the music.

So I saved this for last as this was the last thing I worried about in my party planning. I have a prime membership and with that comes free access to Amazon Music and Amazon Music has almost all the Austen soundtracks for free.

You can listen to my playlist by clicking here or look them up from the list below.

  1. Pride and Prejudice (1995) Theme
  2. Emma (1996) AKA The Gwyneth Paltrow Version Theme
  3. “Frank Churchill Arrives” from Emma (1996) AKA The Gwyneth Paltrow Version
  4. “Mr. Knightley Returns” from Emma (1996) AKA The Gwyneth Paltrow Version Theme
  5. “Dawn” from Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  6. “Meryton Town Hall” from Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  7. “Liz on Top of the World” from Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  8. “Georgiana” from Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  9. “Your Hands Are Cold” from Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  10. “Mrs. Darcy” from Pride and Prejudice (2005)
  11. Mansfield Park (2007) Theme
  12. Northanger Abbey (2007) Theme
  13. Persuasion (2007) Theme
  14. Sense and Sensibility (2008) Theme
  15. Emma (2009) Theme
  16. Austenland” By Emmy the Great from Austenland (2013)
  17. Austenland Symphony I” from Austenland (2013)
  18. L.O.V.E. D.A.R.C.Y.” By Emmy the Great from Austenland (2013)
  19. Only You” By Emmy the Great from Austenland (2013)
  20. What Up” By Emmy the Great from Austenland (2013)
  21. Trio for Flute, Piano, and Cello No. 31 in G Major

I just played it on repeat throughout the whole party.

That’s the final piece of the party planning, if you missed any of the previous posts just click on one of the links below:

Invitations

Party Decorations

Party Menu

Regency Hair

Madsen Creations’ Regency Gown

Paper Fan Making

Croquet

Party Game I: Jane Austen Trivia

Party Game II: Tea Tray Memory Game

Party Game III: Guess How Many Sugar Cubes

Party Game IV: What’s In Your Purse? Game

Party Prize I: Persuasion

Party Prize II: Pride and Prejudice

Party Prize III: Northanger Abbey

Party Prize IV: Teapot & Scones

How to Make Your Own Teapot Piñata

Party Favors

Party Favors II: Kids 5-10

For more of my Jane Austen Birthday plans, go to My Regency Gown from MadsenCreations

For more Jane Austen party ideas, go to Jane Austen Bridal Shower

Jane Austen Birthday Party: Catherine Morland’s Regency Hairdo

So we are almost done with going over my Jane Austen 29th Birthday Party planning.

We have gone over invitations, decorations, the menu, games, my teapot piñata, prizes, and party favors. In this post I’ll be going over my hair choice, the next will feature my gown, and then last but not least my party playlist.

So my hair and I do not have a good relationship, it rarely ever does what I want it to.

So I was first going to try and do a hairstyle like Marianne Dashwood:

But it wouldn’t come out right. So then I tried for Mary Crawford.

But my hair was just not cooperating.

Its times like that that make me wish I had a maid to work on my hair.

I was feeling really stressed as I was running out of time when I decided to try and do what I do when I’m feeling down and stressed, look up my girl Catherine Morland.

Her hair didn’t look too difficult, so I googled to see if I could find a step-by-step guide and discovered this one for doll hair. I figured that if it worked well for the doll, it should theoretically work well on human hair, right?

The directions come from Never Grow Up Doll Guide Blog. She did it for some kind of Regency doll photo shoot. I really liked her step by step directions as they were easy to follow and she included lots of pictures. As I was doing mine on my own, I didn’t take any pictures, but here is step by step how to create Catherine’s hair.

  1. Choose a piece of ribbon (I used a leftover piece from my gown) and place it tie on your head like a headband. Leave two sections of hair loose in the front.
  2. Secure the ribbon by Bobby pining it in.
  3. Keep the two sections of hair separate by clipping them. I put the extra hair in claws so it would stay put:
  4. . Then put all your hair (except the front two sections) into a ponytail.
  5. Take your ponytail and twist it into a bun, Bobby pining it to stay in place.
  6. Take one of the front strands and twist it, placing the end on top of the bun and looping it around the bin. Pin in place.
  7. Repeat step 6

I didn’t take a really good picture of my hair, but it looked fantastic. I definitely recommend doing this to your hair.

We are almost done with my party plans. Can you believe it? Just a few more things to share.

For more of my Jane Austen Birthday plans, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Party Favors II

For more Jane Austen party ideas, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: What’s in Your Purse Game

Jane Austen Birthday Party: Jane Austen Trivia

So as I have been saying in every post, I have been planning my Jane Austen 29th birthday party for a few years (it was originally supposed to be my 27th birthday celebration but things happened); and I was finally able to have it.

So in my previous posts I went over the invitations, the prizes, the decorations, making a teapot piñata, the menu, etc. The next step in my party planning was activities. I ended up choosing to have the activities of paper fan making and croquet for those who didn’t want to play the games; or for the little girls to do while the adults played the games.

Party time!

So originally I had planned for three games, but I ended up doing four. The first game I had wanted to play a type of guess who game where I gave an Austen character to each party guest. I planned for each to have a short bio of their character along with a list of characters everyone else was going to be. I planned for each to act out their character, the first person to get someone to guess them right would receive a prize. I thought it would be a lot of fun, but then my sister and mother pointed out that the people attending were not really Austen fans.

Yes it turned out that all my friends who had actually read or watched Austen’s works were unable to come and the friends that were attending had very limited exposure to Jane Austen. So it was back to the drawing board .

Hmm…?

My next thought was that I would do a game that was more of “Who Am I?” I would give everyone a list of characters and then I would read out a short bio of each character and they would have to match up who goes with which storyline. I thought this would be easier and I could do it either before or after the trivia game, that way it would help people get a boost in answering one of the games.

But when I presented it to my mom and sister, they both still thought it would be too hard. So it was back again to try and come up with a new idea.

Hmm…

I decided to shelve it altogether and instead work on the Jane Austen Trivia game I had planned. I sat down and wrote it up, but then when I looked it back over, I realized it was too hard. I ended up throwing it out and starting all over again.

So I rewrote it, and then this time it was far too easy. I thought if I used it then everyone would be a winner. That one joined the other in the trash.

Ugh, so hard.

I did a few more drafts and then finally settled on one that I thought wasn’t too hard, but also not too easy.

However, it still appears that I made it too hard as everyone said it was really difficult.

From Clueless

My friend who won got 9/15 questions correct and chose prize three. I will attach the Trivia file below and let me know what you think. Was it too hard? Too easy? Or do you think just right?

At the end of the post I’ll put the answers. Let me know what your score is.

I’ve been having so much fun sharing all these things with you, and even though the party has ended I will be continuing to share all my other party plans!

Answers: 1.B, 2.A, 3.C, 4.D, 5.A, 6.A, 7.B, 8.B, 9.B, 10.C, 11.B, 12.D, 13.A, 14.C, 15. A&K, B&M, C&N, D&H, E&J, F&L, G&I

For more of my Jane Austen Birthday plans, go to Jane Austen Birthday: Prize One

For more Jane Austen party ideas, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party Menu, Plus How to Dip Cookies in Chocolate, and a Sugar Cookie Recipe

For more Jane Austen games, go to Marrying Mr. Darcy: The Pride and Prejudice Card Game

Catherine Morland’s Reading List: Secrets of the Heart

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading List? The idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

Secrets of the Heart (The Ravensmoore Chronicles #1) by Jillian Kent

This book is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers.

Madeline Whittington is the daughter of the deceased Earl of Richfield. She has been deeply depressed and heartbroken since her father’s passing, along with her siblings’ passing, and has just ended a year-long period of mourning. Her best friend, Hallie, Lady Gilling, a widow, is trying to get her out and about but Madeline is still suffering.

Life is grey…

Devlin Greyson, is also suffering, but not deaths but from people bullying him and not wanting to befriend him because of his new title, Earl of Ravensmore. As the second son, Devlin had never planned to be the Earl, but instead wanted to pursue his dream of being a doctor. After his brother passed, he received the title, and to the chagrin of the ton he has decided to forgo what is expected and continue his doctoral studies.

Madeline is feeling lost and spends her days meandering the property by walking or on horseback. She is deeply troubled when she discovers a a mute girl on her property that looks as if she has been suffering from terrible things, she decides to help her-hiding and feeding “Brown Eyes”. This gives her something new to devote her attention to as home is not so pleasant with her mother’s new beau, Lord Vale. Lord Vale claims to be her late father’s friend, but Madeline doesn’t know him or trust him and she has a bad feeling about him. He is just too slimy and creepy.

Madeline continues in this despondent way, not going to any parties or events as she doesn’t want to be involved with what the ton likes. The grief she encountered from the loss of her family coupled with seeing the heartbreak her mother faced, she never wants to be married, but then what is left for her? What should she do with her life?

Hallie doesn’t mind her friend wanting to do something else, but is worried over her despondency and hoping to spark some light in her, she has invites her to join the latest hunt. Although Madeline is not into hunting, she agrees to go as she enjoys horseback riding. During the hunt Madeline gets injured and Devlin is introduced and looks in on her as she has injured her arm, but Madeline is not having it. She wants zero to do with Devlin as he killed her father.

Relax, Devlin is not a murderer, but he was the physician-in-training who was unable to help as her father arrived too far gone.  Devlin instantly falls for Madeleine, but is unable to start any relationship with her as she hates the very sight of him. She’d rather be concussed and lying on a field with a broken arm than receive any help from him. In fact she only gets treatment because of the insistence of her friends.

Wow!

So this wouldn’t be a gothic novel if it didn’t have a creepy building and the creepy building in this one is Ashcroft Asylum. The Asylum is located behind Madeline’s home and guess which creepy dude is in on board and in charge of a lot of asylum decisions? Lord Vale.

One day when Lord Vale is visiting the Countess, Madeline’s mother, he talks about a missing mute murderess, a child. Madeleine figures out it is “Brown Eyes”, but doesn’t believe him as the girl is so nice. Madeleine does all she can, but unfortunately the little girl is discovered and sent back to the creepy Asylum.

Creepy…

Ashcroft Asylum continues its creepy grasp as it holds dread for Devlin as well. His mother went insane and his father sent her away to the asylum where she passed away. Devlin does all he can to stay far away from it, and the fear of mental illness has a strong grip on him.

One day he can no longer avoid it as his school gets a call that the asylum is in need of medical assistance and his instructor volunteers Devlin. When Devlin looks at the wounded inmates, he feels very suspicious of the “self-inflected” wounds, they have but without any concrete proof nothing can be done. Fearing that there is something not right going on in the facility, he decides to tell his instructor and have him check up on it.

Hmm…

Hallie and Madeline run into Devlin and his fellow trainee Melton repeatedly, with Hallie and Melton being very interested in each other, but Madeline doing all she can to get rid of Devlin. Devlin honors her requests as a suitor, but as a doctor he feels he must check up on her health after the horseback riding incident, and then a later carriage accident. On one such visit to see that her arm is healing properly, the two go horseback riding (Madeline’s insistence) and when they return they discover Madeleine’s mother is gone!

She has eloped with Lord Vale to Gretna Greene.

They run after them, but are too late. They have been married and Madeline has a wicked stepfather. Madeline becomes so angry at it all, that when Devlin goes to check on her mental and physical state he discovers she has a gun, one she had wanted to use to keep Vale from marrying her mother. Devlin comforts her and helps her return home, but his visits stop as he will be busy with the upcoming tests to complete his training, leaving her alone in her thoughts.

Vale and her mother return and Vale slimily slips into every part of their lives, taking over. He even volunteers Madeline to help at the asylum, teaching two young boys who are awaiting transport. In doing so Madeline starts to see what really goes on in the asylum: uncleanliness, lack of food being given to the inmates, etc. Vale “listens” and agrees to consider her requests of going through the head of the Asylum’s practices and having  doctor check the inmates, but his compliance seems very out of character and as benefactor, does he really not know what is going on?

Hmm…

Madeleine finds herself attracted to Devlin, and turning to her with her problems, but she still doesn’t want to be with him if he is a doctor. She insists Devlin tell her what happened with her father, and when he reveals the truth, he wasn’t too far gone it turned out that her father didn’t like how tight the tourniquet was and when the doctors were busy with other patients, he loosened it and bleed to death.

From The Wolf Man (1941)

Madeleine is furious at this statement and refuses to believe him. She tells Devlin she never wants to see him again and refuses letters, calls,  etc. all contact from him.

Of him

Madeline continues to fall into depression and melancholia.

Life is grey…from Anna Karenina (1948)

Then Madeleine’s mother grows very sick wasting away. Madeleine immediately grows suspicious of Vale and tries to get her away and send for Devlin. When Vale uncovers this, he sends her packing to the asylum.

In the asylum she encounters the horrors of the asylum:

The Wolfman (2010)

She also finds out the deep secrets that lie in the asylum and has to fall victim to the horrors of the asylum, Will she get out, or be stuck in the dreaded place forever?

Hmm…

Will her mother be saved, or will she die by the plotting of the dastardly Vale?

Hmmm…

And what terrible secrets does the asylum hold?

Hmm…

So this was a really interesting book as it talked a lot about grief and depression, and showed realistic reactions to it. I used to work with grieving people and we see parents and children hating doctors after their loved ones died, depression, isolation, wanting to not be involved romantically because of fear, pushing away from new people, starting a new relationship (the mother), etc. It’s actually nice to read about her being lost and confused but trying to journey through.

The conditions of the asylum were truly terrifying. And the way that people could so easily be thrown in one, made me think of The Woman in White. (An amazing book, you should definitely check out!).

This is of course a romance, so the end was a bit quickly resolved in a happy way but I still enjoyed it. I thought it was cute and mysterious.

This is also a Non-Austen Read for Austen Readers as the character of Madeliene reminds me of Marianne Dashwood. Like Madeleine, Marianne has just encountered the death of her father and her whole world changed. With the estate entailed she and her sister lose their house, some of the furnishings, friendships, position in society, and have to move to a place rented to them out of the kindness of their hearts. Like Madeleine she is a whirlwind of passion and emotion, and also like Madeliene rejects a suitor adamantly. Madeline rejects Devlin believing him to have killed her father ad hating all doctors in general, while Marianne thinks Colonel Brandon is too old and not passionate-yet they both end up with those guys who patiently love them from afar.

As I said a good book to read.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Cat Burglar Black

For more Non-Austen Reads for Austen Readers, go to Homespun Bride

For more Gothic Fiction, go to The Poison Diaries

For more stories with asylums, go to Trapped in a Mansion in the Middle of Nowhere with a Psycho: The Cat and the Canary (1939)