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

My Regency Gown from MadsenCreations

So I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been wanting a Regency inspired gown for quite a while now.

I had planned to have one made for Modesto Jane Con but time ran away with me and we didn’t get a chance.

But this time I was ready. I put an order in early with Madsen Creations and was determined to have my Regency gown for my birthday party.

Now I don’t know about you all but I’m one of those people who I need to see something on me and struggle at looking at fabric and seeing the end result. Oftentimes I don’t know what I want and kind of hem and haw about it all. This time I had seen lots of Regency gowns in different films and had a better idea of what I really wanted. Of course I really wanted a coat like Catherine:

But that is too, too hot for CA spring.

Instead I really wanted a blue gown, as blue always looks good on me, and after searching through many gowns the biggest influence was the cut of Lydia’s gown in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and the style of Daphne’s gown in Bridgerton.

I haven’t actually seen this show, but I loved the pearls on the dress.

After the gown was selected we went on a trip to the fabric store. Originally we were going to find a lace to add on top of the gown, but there was no fabric that I really liked and time was limited. Instead we purchased blue linen, blue thread, pearl buttons-and swapped out the plans for an overlay for an applique (being inspired by Emma (2020).

I also needed a new fan, as my pride and joy is a red fan from Spain that my brother and sister-in-law gave me, and would clash with this gown. I needed a few supplies from the dollar tree and found a blue fan that matched the fabric for $1.

From there my work was done and Madsen Creations took over. She made this dress in a week, yes one week! Isn’t that amazing?

She ended up using a lace overlay with pearl buttons she had leftover from a previous costume she made. She also said that if it wasn’t for the trickiness of the pearls in the overlay, the dress would have been completed in two days.

My dress was absolutely beautiful, a perfect dream and I looked great in it.

If you are looking for any custom work, definitely check her out.

We are almost done with my party plans. Can you believe it? Just a one more thing to share and then I’ll be back to our usual book reviews and such.

For more on Madsen Creations, go to Jane Austen Runs My Life Collaboration with Madsen Creations!

For more Madsen Creations products, go to I Tried Madsen Creations’ Reusable Cloth Teabags

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

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: Croquet

So as you know if you have been following my page, I just celebrated my 29th birthday with a Jane Austen Garden Tea Party.

Party time!

Some of you might be wondering why I am so extensively going through all the party planning and it was because I had been planning to have this two years ago, in my last year of being a Jane Austen heroine (Anne Elliot) but life got in the way so I decided to wait and now I’ve finally been able to have it.

So far we have gone over invitations, decorations, prizes, and how to make your own piñata, etc. Now I ended up having four games, but I know not everyone is interested in being a part of games-and I had four little girls who needed something to occupy themselves with. So I started thinking what else could I offer my party guests?

So the first thing I had planned was paper fan making. I thought the young girls would have a lot of fun making those, plus if the adults got overheated they could make one too.

But that would only occupy them for a short while. So I started thinking of something else to have…

Hmm…?

So one thing I really, really wanted to have at my party was croquet. I love croquet, but I wanted it not only because I like the game but because I wanted to be like Austenland.

Ah, if only I had JJ Feild: Mr. Tilney or Mr. Nobley. I’d settle for any of them.

I’m all about him!

So I started looking and I couldn’t find any croquet sets that weren’t costing an arm and a leg. I searched everywhere, every site I could think of and just gave up. I thought I would just have to find something else to do.

Sigh

But then in April, about two weeks before my party was planned, I went antiquing with some friends. I found some teacups, mugs, and other things in this amazing multilevel store. As I went to go outside to the shed, I spotted something sad, forlorn, dirty, and ignored.

I’m not sure how old it is, but it is certainly vintage. I got the set (minus the arches) for $30

This set needed a lot of work, someone had not been kind and left them out in the elements: they were dirty, full of cobwebs, the paint was peeling, etc. And of course after I purchased this set every site then had full new croquet sets for sale.

Oh well…

So I set to work taking care of it. I had to clean everything, then sanitize it, paint it, and in the end varnish it. I had a lot of help, which was good, as this was tiring.

From The Iron Giant

And I think it came out pretty great.

The official rules of croquet were published in the mid 1800s, but people had been playing long before that.

For those who don’t know, the game of croquet is a race of hitting balls on the lawn. Similar to golf, one must hit their ball but through an arch or hoop to score points, then tap the pole at the end to win.

  1. The role of play is on the wickets and the peg, you must play in the order of the colors.
  2. The first player gets one strike and whacks their ball in an effort to get it through the hoop.
  3. Each player gets one shot and they are played in turn (unless extra shots get earned).
  4. Running a hoop‘ (passing through the correct hoop) gains one extra shot. Hitting one of the other three balls (a roquet) gets you two extra shots as well.
  5. You can hit another ball (make a roquet) and earn two extra shots. In this case the first of those (the croquet stroke) must get played by placing it in contact with the roquet ball. To do that, you move your ball and place it anywhere in contact with the ball that got hit. The roqueted ball must move or shake with the next strike.
  6. Balls can get struck off the lawn. How I’ve always played is like golf, you hit where it lands. But official UK rules say that if a ball is knocked out of bounds, you may move it one meter inside the lawn.
  7. Players must hit each ball clean and without moving any other balls, hoops, or pegs. The best croquet strategy is to strike the balls with the face of the mallet to make a clean shot. (Or as seen in the Austenland video, hold you ball with your foot, and smack it into another to move them out of the way.)
  8. The ball gets removed from play once it hits the peg at the end of the course.
  9. You score one point for getting the ball through each hoop. You get an extra point for hitting the peg. First person or team to do so, wins!

We played with it, the young girls did as well, and we all had a great time.

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!

For more of my Jane Austen Birthday plans, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Paper Fan Making

For more Jane Austen party ideas, go to Jane Austen Birthday Party: Decorations

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

Jane Austen Birthday Party: Invitations

So I have been planning my Jane Austen 29th birthday party for a few years, and I’m not letting the Coronavirus get in the way. I had always planed a garden party (social distancing check), trying to keep it small (small groups check), and our county is moving a tier down. But even if everything gets on lockdown again and it turns out to be just me, I’m having it!

Party time!

Those who follow me on Instagram have seen that I already started by collecting tea cups which I plan to use for people to drink out of and take home as their favor. I started early on that as I wanted plenty of time to get enough.

After that, I moved on to invitations. Emily Post recommends that invitations should be mailed out 4-6 weeks before the event. I had planned a weekend to work on them, but things didn’t go quite as planned.

My life motto right there…

So I was getting close to the 4 week mark and needed to get invitations out. I found a couple cute ones on Etsy. One by PaperColada was nice looking and a good price, but I struggled with editing it. So I ended up giving that one a pass.

Another one by AgentKat was gorgeous, but the price was a bit too high as I still needed to pay for printing them. I gave that one a pass as well.

There were other paper ones that could be made and fit the style and price I wanted, but they wouldn’t be ready in time.

So I tried making my own cards. After visiting CVS, Staples, Walgreens, Zazzle, and VistaPrint-I ended up settling on Walmart. The cards weren’t exactly what I had envisioned, but they still came out cute. I made three different ones with free Regency pictures I found online. This one photographed the best.

The invitation says:

You are cordially invited to a Jane Austen Garden Tea Party

In honor of Miss L—- Twenty Ninth Birthday (I wanted to do Nine and Twenty, but I wasn’t sure everyone would get it.)

“It sometimes happens that a women is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before.” -Jane Austen

Please RSVP with haste at —

Costumes are not required but encouraged

I can’t wait to share some of my other plans with you all.

For more Jane Austen parties, go to Jane Austen Bridal Shower