The Story of the She Wedding

I found this report published in the London St. James Chronicle on March 30, 1765.

(I’ve updated to modern spelling for you, but kept the adorably old-fashioned capitalization)

For the St. James Chronicle. Story taken from a Pamphlet in the Harleian Miscellany, entitled The She-Wedding, &c.

In the Year 1684, a Girl at Deptford proving with Child by a Sailor, when he went to Sea applied to his Mother, averring that she was his Wife, which the old Woman did not choose to believe unless the Certificate was produced. In this Dilemma the Girl consulted with a female Neighbour, of a masculine Make, between whom it was agreed that a Sham-Marriage should take place, which was solemnized at St. George’s Church in Southwark, and the Clerk being bribed, antedated the Certificate six Months, which making the supposed Mother-in-Law easy, the Wench received all the Favour such an Alliance entitled her to. But, O Grief of Griefs! the two families being overheard calling each other by the Names of Husband and Wife, it created Suspicion, and upon Examination the Cheat appearing plain, the Parson complained to the Civil Magistrate, and they were both committed to Gaol.

The moral of this story (at least for genealogists): don’t trust a single source document as proof of anything. Always seek out other sources to verify a fact, as there have been lots of reasons, over the years, for people to want to falsify documents.