Yes, it's that day again - our wedding anniversary. 16 years this time around. Last year, on our 15th anniversary, I wrote a very candid and (looking back on it now) pretty morose piece about my impressions of multicultural marriage. Those impressions still hold true, yet we have survived and will continue to survive. Isn't that what it's all about?
But today I want to talk about another bride, my great grandmother, married more
than 100 years ago at the age of 21.
My mother has a first cousin in England who is interested in geneology and several years ago he dug up a bit of information about his and my mother's shared maternal grandparents and great grandparents. Among the documents were a family tree and a newspaper article describing my great grandmother's wedding day in 1893.
My great great grandfather Charles Rufus was born in England but emigrated to Australia as a young man in 1858 to take up goldmining. It was there that he met Jane, my great great grandmother, whose father, Francis, had been transported to Australia from England in 1830 after being convicted of stealing six handkerchiefs and two dead rabbits(!) Jane's mother Catherine was one of the Catholic brides shipped over to Australia from Ireland.
Charles and Jane had four children in Australia and five more when they moved back to England in around 1875. Their third eldest child and second daughter, my great grandmother Elizabeth Mabel - known as 'May' to her family - was born in Australia in 1872.
I love the following description of her special day in 1893 which I'm assuming took place some time during the summer months. Maybe even on June 16. Who knows?
WEDDING. -- Considerably over 200 persons assembled in S. Peter's Church yesterday afternoon to witness a very pretty wedding ceremony, conducted by the Vicar of Petersfield (the Rev. F.J. Causton), the contracting parties being Mr. Allan Munday, of Heath Farm, and Miss Elizabeth Mabel Rufus, second daughter of Mr. Charles Rufus of the Railway Hotel, Petersfield. The bride, who looked charming in an attire of grey silk with steel trimmings, wreath and veil, and who also carried a handsome bouquet, was given away by her father. She was followed by four bridesmaids, viz., Misses Milly and Emma Rufus (sisters of the bride), becomingly dressed in electric blue, and black hats trimmed with electric blue velvet, and Misses Alice and Beatrice, the bride's youngest sisters, who looked very dainty in cream dresses with old gold sashes, white straw hats trimmed with buttercups and carrying fancy baskets of buttercups. Mr. T.G. Gammon acted as bridegroom's best man. The bride's eldest sister and the bridegroom's two sisters who were present were fashionably attired, as were also others amongst the guests. Upon emerging from the the church, amid the merry ringing of the church bells, the newly-wedded couple were greeted with showers of rice. There was a numerous gathering at the wedding breakfast, the cake for which was supplied by Mr. J. S. Chown. Mr. and Mrs. Munday left for London by the 3:37 p.m. train, en route for Yorkshire where the honeymoon will be spent, carrying with them the best wishes of a crowd of relatives and friends. The colour of the bride's travelling gown was brown and pink, and she wore a hat to match. The presents were numerous and several very costly.
Can't you just imagine all the women and girls in their pretty, fashionable outfits?
When I was planning our wedding I chose this picture for the front of our invitations. I didn't get a hold of the newspaper article until a few years ago so I don't know that I was consciously thinking of my great grandmother May when I made my choice, but I think she may have looked an awful lot like this on her wedding day. The painting is called "Signing of the Register", done by James Charles, a Victorian painter who lived from 1851 to 1905.
My great grandparents had three daughters, Hilda, Gertrude and Kathleen. Hilda was my 'Nonna', my grandmother.
Elizabeth Mabel Munday died in 1917 at the age of 45 of a burst appendix. Her husband Allan passed away shortly after that. Of a broken heart, they say. That makes MY heart ache every time I think about it.