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A Poor Law Cupid

by | Feb 14, 2022 | Village Folk | 3 comments

Mullion Cottage Church Road

This lovely news story was found in The Daily News, Perth and published on 26 November 1903.

Two disappointed lovers brought together

In September last an old lady, accompanied by her daughter, called at the house of the relieving officer at Saffron Walden, England, and asked him if he knew of a young woman in the workhouse who would make her son a suitable wife.

The old lady explained that her son, Joseph Clayden, had served twelve years in the Royal Artillery, and upon his return home from India he found that his former sweetheart had been won by another. He had been so deceived that he meant to have a young woman out of the workhouse if he could get one. The daughter explained that she too was anxious to find a wife for her brother, as her own wedding was shortly to take place and she wanted the two weddings to be celebrated at the same time. Both women declared that the ex-artilleryman was a good-natured, hard-working fellow, and would make a good husband.

The receiving officer was somewhat non-plussed at such an unusual application, and did not give them much encouragement. A few days after, however, the officer met the grandmother and uncle of a young woman, named Emma Lawrence, of the neighbouring village of Chrishall, who was homeless and had also recently been crossed in love. He told the grandmother of the ex-artilleryman, whereupon she eagerly inquired for the address of the Claydens, and at once invited them all over to Chrishall to tea the following Sunday.

When Sunday came, the ex-soldier drove his mother and sister and the latter’s young man to Chrishall. He wooed the girl and was accepted, the banns were published the following Sunday, and, after a courtship of just one month the happy couple were married on the Saturday at Saffron Walden Parish Church.


So what connections can we find with this story? Well in 1901 there was an Emma Lawrence living with her son George in Church Street (Church Road). However Emma was 67 and a publican, so it seems more likely she was the grandmother in the story above – perhaps her grand-daughter was also named Emma after her? In Kelly’s Directory of 1902 George Lawrence, who would have been younger Emma’s uncle, is listed as a ‘beer retailer’. The Lawrence’s don’t appear in any other census returns and there is no record of a marriage at Chrishall Church of Emma and Joseph Clayden. So that’s where the trail runs dry for now … unless you know better!


  1. Angela Phillips

    Joseph Clayden and Emma Lawrence marriage listed in the Saffron Walden area December 1903.

    • Rosemarie Gant

      That sounds possible doesn’t it Angela.

  2. Rosemarie Gant

    Isn’t it funny how you can look at things so many times and still see something different? I have only just noticed the horse and cart and the people on the very left of this picture.


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