Monday, 26 April 2010

Charles Kisby the wife seller

The story is almost complete. The death certificate of Charles Kisby (1812-1872) arrived today in the post. Charles was a railway labourer. He died of brochitis in Sedgefield Workhouse, hundreds of miles from where he was born.

Charles Kisby is actually one of my own ancestors, born near Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, on 16 February 1812. He married Maria Bass when he was still a teenager and Maria gave birth to at least two daughters. The marriage didn't appear to have gone well at all. Probably the daughters, Sarah Ann and Jane, died when they were young. Then in May 1840 it was widely reported in the English and Irish press that a certain Charles Kisby had sold his wife in Wisbech market! Charles had arrived with his wife wearing a rope halter around her neck. Fortunately the local police sergeant intervened to stop the auction but, all the same, Charles later sold his wife to a Thomas Foster for one guinea.

In 1851 'my' Charles Kisby appears in a village near The Wash on the other side of Wisbech. He is described as 'unmarried'. In 1871 he appears as a railway labourer living in County Durham.

So Charles ended up coughing and spluttering his guts up in the workshouse. As for Maria, I've never found out whether she met a miserable end or spent her days in a happy new relationship. It would be fascinating to know!

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