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The Game of Love in Georgian EnglandCourtship, Emotions, and Material Culture$
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Sally Holloway

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198823070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198823070.001.0001

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Breach of Promise

Breach of Promise

(p.143) 6 Breach of Promise
The Game of Love in Georgian England

Sally Holloway

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses the legal consequences of broken relationships using ninety breach of promise cases under the common law. It unpicks the nature of the suit including the verdicts, gender balance, damages awarded, age, occupation, and social status of plaintiffs and defendants. The chapter reveals that while women brought 80 per cent of cases, they were also more likely to win. It show how the action changed in response to the emotional shifts outlined in Chapter 5, as by the 1790s, romantic hurt was presented in court as a uniquely female grievance. Cases increasingly came to rely upon demonstrating the hurt feelings of spurned lovers, where a man was not thought to suffer as equally as a woman. Finally, the chapter reveals how objects such as love letters, wedding licences, wedding clothes, and furniture for the marital home were crucial in providing material evidence of proximity to marriage.

Keywords:   breach of promise, broken engagements, common law, love, emotions, material culture, courtship, matrimony, romantic pain, hurt feelings

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