Haverfordwest History

AtoZ Challenge E: Elopements At Haverfordwest

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is for bloggers who wish to participate, by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B, April 3 will be C, and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been published.   Blog posts are usually on a theme, or you can choose to post each day with no theme at all. My theme for 2024 is “Haverfordwest in the News”. Haverfordwest is a town in the county of Pembrokeshire, Wales.

#AtoZChallenge 2024 letter E


The following report appeared in multiple Australian newspapers.

from: The South Australian (Adelaide, S.A: 1844-1851), Monday 20 December 1850, page

Considerable excitement was occasioned at Slebech Hall, near Haverfordwest, the seat of Baron de Rutzen, on Tuesday morning last, owing to the mysterious disappearance of the eldest daughter of the Baron and Baroness de Rutzen. It appears that the young lady, who is not only highly accomplished, but is also possessed of rare personal charms, had been accustomed for several days previously to leave home at an early hour in the morning, for the ostensible purpose of gathering mushrooms.

On Tuesday morning she went out at the usual hour, in her morning dress and carrying a small basket on her arm. She did not return. The servants were despatched in all directions in search of her, but without success, and at length it was feared that she had been accidentally drowned in one of the fish ponds near the mansion, and men were even set to drag them: but fortunately, however, their efforts were fruitless.

Matters continued to wear a most gloomy aspect until about two o’clock in the afternoon, when the mystery was explained by the arrival of a mounted messenger, with a letter to the Baron from Richard Lort Phillips Esq., of East Hook, apprising him of his (Mr Phillipp ‘s) marriage at St. Bride’s Church, that morning, to the missing fair one, and enclosing a certificate of the nuptial completion of the ceremony. It appears that Mr Phillipps had been for some time, an ardent admirer of Miss de Rutzen, and that his attentions were received propitiously by her, but for some reasons the parents of the lady did not favour his suit, although he was a frequent visitor at the hall.

The following is the way in which the affair was arranged and carried into effect: between six and seven o’clock on the morning of Tuesday bhe took a chaise from the Mariners Hotel, Haverfordwest, directing the driver to proceed as fast as he could to Cosbro Lodge, on the road to Narbeth, about four miles from Haverfordwest. On arrival there he was desired to pull up, when Mr Phillipps alighted from the carriage, and immediately the lady, faithful to her engagement, made her appearance from behind the hedge. In an instant she was escorted to the carriage by Mr Phillipps, and away they proceeded post haste to St. Bride’s  Church, a distance of 16 miles, where the happy pair were united by the Kev. William Bowen Harries.

They then left in the same carriage en route for Aberystwyth, relays of horses awaiting them at St. Catherine’s Bridge and at New Inn, where the luggage of the fugitives had been forwarded and the lady’s future maid awaited their arrival.
Mr Phillipps is much esteemed in Haverford west, and the bells of St. Mary’s Church celebrated his nuptials with many a merry peal throughout the day. At East Hook, great rejoicings took place, and an ample repast was provided for the servants and labourers on the estate.

The other case is perhaps more remarkable: A few days ago. (says the Carlisle Patriot,) Felix Lough, late of London, widower, who has a family of three children, and now an inmate of Penrith Union workhouse, eloped to Gretna-Green with Mary Jackson, widow, who has a family of four children, and is also an inmate of the same workhouse. A few days previous to the elopement the parties gave notice to Mr Slee, the master of the workhouse, that they intended to leave the workhouse, and accordingly did so.

How they raised the wind is not known, but the fact is, they set off on foot, upwards of thirty miles to Gretna, and on arriving there found that they had little or no cash to pay the officiating priest, who asked a sum twenty times more in amount, than what they were possessed of, and persisted that he would not marry them for a farthing less. However, Felix Lough, in a most melancholy strain, explained that his wife was dead, that Mary Jackson’s husband was also dead, that they were both paupers belonging to Penrith Union workhouse, and becoming quite convulsed, and letting flow a flood of tears over his wrinkled cheeks, in the most affecting manner exclaimed “For goodness sake do marry us, for Mary Jackson was the first sweetheart that I ever had, aye, long before I was married to my first poor wife, back then she would not have me; now she has consented to be my wife. O! do marry us.’  “Yes, ye», it is all true, do wed us,” said Mary Jackson. The priest was moved with compassion – he married them. Soon afterwards, they set off on their return to Penrith on foot, and on their arrival there they were foot-sore and completely dished up, and not having a place where to lay their heads, they even applied to Mr Armstrong, the relieving officer, for an order into the workhouse again, who, according to the present state of the poor law, was obliged to give them an order, and now the new married couple, in accordance with the same law, are spending their honeymoon in the workhouse, apart from each other.

Slebech Hall, in about 1950 photo credit: britishlistedbuildings.co.uk

**Please notePunctuation and paragraphs have been added to the above transcription for ease and speed of reading.

1850 ‘ELOPEMENTS IN HIGH AND LOW LIFE.’, South Australian (Adelaide, SA : 1844 – 1851), 30 December, p. 4, viewed 25 Nov 2023, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71627935

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20 thoughts on “AtoZ Challenge E: Elopements At Haverfordwest”

  1. Yes I’d love to know what happened to the family too Anne. Perhaps I might find them in the census. Thanks for the wikitree link. I’ll check it out.

  2. What a contrast in the two elopements! The second was so touching. However, I love the phrase from the first article: “Matters continued to wear a most gloomy aspect.” I plan to use that one the next time I am out of sorts 🙂

  3. I am definitely in Australia, but there were often reports in the Australian newspapers taken from the Haverfordwest papers.

  4. Interesting! I love history and the stories that have survived. There are times I’ve thought it would be interesting to actually travel to the past and experience historical events first hand.

  5. That was very exciting. I didn’t know about eloping. I also thought you were in Wales, but now I know you’re in Australia. That’s a lot further away than the Haverfordwest in Wales. mummy looked for a holiday cottage in that area, but that when she was still well enough to take us on holiday. It would have been nice, but we like it at home, too.

  6. Jennifer, these reports cracked me up. I can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us.

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