In England, the sale of a wife sometimes occurs, even at the present day, of which the following is an example, from the Lancaster Herald.
“Sale of a wife at Carlisle—The inhabitants of this city lately witnessed the sale of a wife by her husband, Joseph Thompson, who resided in a small village about three miles distant, and rents a farm of about forty-two or forty-four acres. She was a spruce, lively, buxom damsel, apparently not exceeding twenty-two years of age, and appeared to feel a pleasure at the exchange she was about to make. They had no children during their union, and that, with some family disputes, caused them by mutual agreement to come to the resolution of finally parting. Accordingly, the bellman was sent round to give public notice of the sale, which was to take place at twelve o’clock; and this announcement attracted the notice of thousands. She appeared above the crowd, standing on a large oak chair, surrounded by many of her friends, with a rope or halter, made of straw, round her neck, being dressed in rather a fashionable country style, and appearing to some advantage. The husband, who was also standing in an elevated position near her, proceeded to put her up for sale, and spoke nearly as follows:—‘Gentlemen, I have to offer to your notice my wife, Mary Anne Thompson, otherwise Williamson, whom I mean to sell to the highest and fairest bidder. It is her wish as well as mine to part for ever. I took her for my comfort, and the good of my house, but she has become my tormentor and a domestic curse, &c. &c. Now I have shown you her faults and failings, I will explain her qualifications and goodness. She can read fashionable novels and milk cows; she can laugh and weep with the same ease that you can take a glass of ale; she can make butter, and scold the maid; she can sing Moore’s melodies, and plait her frills and caps; she cannot make rum, gin, or whiskey, but she is a good judge of their quality from long experience in tasting them, I therefore offer her, with all her perfections and imperfections, for the sum of fifty shillings.’—After an hour or two, she was purchased by Henry Mears, a pensioner, for the sum of twenty shillings and a Newfoundland dog. The happy pair immediately left town together, amidst the shouts and huzzas of the multitude, in which they were joined by Thompson, who, with the greatest good-humor imaginable, proceeded to put the halter, which his wife had taken off, round the neck of his Newfoundland dog, and then proceeded to the first public house, where he spent the remainder of the day.”