Saturday, November 26, 2011

They Sold Their Wife.

Yes you read the title right.  All the men on this list sold one of his wife's.  When I first ran across this information I thought it was a erorr.  But as I went through more records I found more and more men selling their wife's.  One hundred years ago, unwanted wives were still being sold at market. A husband would bring his wife with a rope halter round her neck, shouting out his intention to sell her. The woman would then be auctioned in the same way as cattle – even by her weight. Between 1780 and 1850, over 300 such sales were reported in the newspapers and there were very likely many other unreported cases.

Wife selling was a kind of folk custom, allowing quarrelling couples to unofficially separate. News reports were naturally highly critical, but they also presented the sales as amusing anecdotes, a titillating glimpse for readers of a chaotic working class world.   Wife sales were by no means a commonplace divorce alternative. They were exotic enough to be presented as oddities by the press. As a result dozens of lurid accounts can be found in 18th and 19th century British newspapers. Thomas Hardy famously used newspaper reports of wife-selling Until divorce was readily available, hundreds of men bought and sold their wives – for as little as one pint of beer.

The men on this list all servied in the war of 1812, when I put this list together I neglected to put what state they were from.  But there are enough names that you should be able to tell if you have the right ancestor. You may be in for a big surprise. You may find that your Great-Great-Great-Grandmother had been sold for a cow or a pint of beer.

Thomas Bell.
Sold his first wife: Judith Shearon
Second wife: Sarah M. Knox.

Adam Bellinger.
Sold first wife: Elizabeth Hoover.
Second wife: Eliza Ricket.

John Bennett.
Sold his first wife: Sally Williams.
Second Wife: Mary Ann Lamb.

David J. Bent.
Sold his first wife: Rebecca Hubbard.
Second wife: Emeline M. Armstrong.

Daniel Bailey.
Sold his first wife: Mehitable Estabrook.
Sold his second wife: Cynthia H. Adams
Third wife: Ruth Durbon.

John Bailey.
Sold his first wife: Margaret Crabtree.
Second Wife: Harriet Eliza Smith.

Benjamin Baker.
sold his first wife: Mary Gilman.
Second Wife: Mary Adams.

Ezekiel Baker.
Sold his first wife: Olive Lowery.
Second wife: Camilla Babber.

Auguish Land Campbell.
Sold his first wife: Nancy Squire.
Second wife: Sarah Ann Bailey.

Henry Calyer or Henry V. Calyer or Henry Kolyer.
Sold his first wife: Elizabeth Ann Bailey.
Second wife: Elizabeth Wilkins.

Duncan Campbell.
Sold his first wife: Polly Aikers.
Second wife: Nancy Anderson.

Levi Campbell.
Sold his first wife: Mary Day.
Second wife: Ragraut Degraut.

Moses Cochran.
Sold his first wife: Mary Small.
Second wife: Lucinda W. Cook.

Eunice S. Eames.
Sold his first wife: Sally Miler.
Second Wife: Evnice S. Smith.

James Earnest.
Sold his first wife: P. A. Kunnel.
Second wife: Polly Ann Kurl.

Joseph Easter.
Solld his first wife: Mary Smith.
Second wife: Lucretia (?).

Thomas S. Easton.
Sold his first wife: Abigal G. Hart.
Second wife: Elizabeth C. Smith.

Sylvester Eaton.
Sold his first wife: Lydia Gardner.
Sold Second wife: Blandina Goodwin.
Third wife: Nancy Wilks.

George B. Eckelberry.
Sold his first wife: Rebecca Dorr.
Second wife: Catharine Eddy.

Luther Fillmore.
Sold his first wife: Susan Ford.
Second Wife: Hannah A. Sheffield.

Jonathan Fisher.
Sold his first wife: Maria Brainard.
Second wife: Sarah Brooks Youngs

Joshua Fish.
Sold his first wife: Catharine Sieles.
Second Wife: Polly Row.

Allen Fisher.
Sold his first wife: Eliza Levering.
Second wife: Louisa Gelinger.

Christopher Fisher.
Sold his first wife: Abigal Whaley.
Second wife: Rebecca Shepard.

Henry Fisher.
Sold his first wife: Marry Ann Culps.
Second wife: Nancy Meadows.

Humphrey Fisher.
Sold his first wife: Elizabeth Francisco.
Second wife: Catharine Ludwick.

Nahum Fisher.
Sold his first wife: Betsey Harrington.
Second wife: Mary P. Rockwood.

Francis Fitzgerald.
Sold his first wife: Mary Whitington.
Second wife: Maria Hulett.

Andrew Fitzlan.
Sold his first wife: Mary Briant.
Second wife: Eliza Curtner.

John Flanigan.
Sold his first wife: Elizabeth Penticost.
Second wife: Susan M. Justice.

Harbin H. Ford.
Sold his first wife: Marearet Grady or Crady.
Second wife: Ann Maria Brooks.

John T. Ford.
Sold his first wife: Nancy Wilson.
Second wife: Mary Ann Graham.

Warner Ford.
Sold his first wife: Sarah Terrel.
Second wife: Catharine Hawkins.

Kenas Gilbert.
Sold his first wife: Elizabeth Stokesberry.
Second wife: Rebecca Skaggs.

Robert Gilrist.
Sold his first wife: Jane Fleming.
Second wife: Mary Ann Powers.

Thomas Gilham.
Sold his first wife: Cynthia Davis.
Second wife: Mary Wiseman.

Benjamin Gilkison.
Sold his first wife: Chaistina Powell.
Second wife: Sibbie Ann Taylor.

Caleb Gill.
Sold his first wife: Susan Wheeler.
Second wife: Elizabeth Wheeler.

John Gillespie.
Slold his first wife: (?) Houston.
Sold his second wife: Nancy Gallagher.
Third wife: Jane Kilbourn.

Eleazor Gillett.
Sold his first wife: Sylvpa Taylor.
Sold his second wife: Malinda Small ( Alleged ).
Third wife: Sylvia Taylor.

George Goodwill.
Sold his first wife: Elizabeth Harden.
Second wife: Nancy Babcock.

Horace Goodwin.
Sold his first wife: Mary Ramsey.
Second wife: Phebe C. Berry.

Frederick N. Hall.
Sold his first wife: Sally Hammond.
Second wife: Almira S. Paentiss.

Henry Hall.
Sold his first wife: Patty Clark.
Second Wife: Emoline Wyman.

John Hall Jr.
Sold his first wife: Jane Allen.
Second wife: Elizabeth McCarter.

Cyrus Haymond.
Sold his first wife: Jane Somerville.
Second wife: Mary Carpenter.

William Hanna.
Sold his first wife: Feriby Martin.
Second wife: Margaret Pierce.

Levi Harling.
Sold his first wife: Frances Eliza Street.
Second wife: Mary E. Evans.


PalmsRV said...

Oh my. Never heard of that custom before.

Sweetredhead said...

I have heard of the custom before but I thought it was a rumor or scandalizing newspaper stories at least. My gggreat grandfather Kenas Gilbert is listed here. I'm descended through his second wife Rebecca. I was curious, where did you find this list from? For both the War of 1812 & Wife Sellers. Sources please? I want to research this further.

Dennis Segelquist said...

I found the info, by puting ( Sold his wife ) in my search box. As for the names I got them from the ( War of 1812 pension application Index.) This can also be found on line but its hard to find the right one. If you were to send yor g-g-g-grand fathers name I will be glad to look him up, there is a lot more info then I give on the page Write me at

Anonymous said...

Was this really "a custom" or were these men outliers? If a custom, was there a geographical aspect (like along the Mohawk River Valley or the Blue Mountains), an ethnical aspect (men of African descent or German immigrants), an economical aspect (uneducated, low income persons vs educated, monied persons), or were these men with a history of spousal abuse? This sounds so Medieval.

Thank you, seekerJay

Dennis Segelquist said...

Jay yes its true, the custom came from ENGLAND. selling was cheaper then getting a devorce.

Read some of the comments and my answers here, and read the information at the top of this post.

Suzanne Schroeder Enlow said...

My girlfriend who is in her late 30's told me once that her grandmother's first husband took her to church one day (I'm assuming in the 1930's) and said "I am done with her, who wants her?". That is when my friend's grandfather took her home & kept her as his wife. She said she is pretty sure that there was no divorce or marriage.