[ Victorian matchmaking: 'consult me personally & see cartes of 500 Ladies'. ] Two Autograph Letters Signed (both 'Editor | M N') and printed agreement from the editor of Matrimonial News to J. Russell Gubbins of Limerick, who is in search of a wife.

Matrimonial News, London periodical (Frederick Farrah, proprietor) [ John Russell Gubbins [ John Russell Legh ] of Bruree House, Limerick ]
Publication details: 
The two letters from the Matrimonial News Office, 282 Strand, London. 11 and 13 February 1874.
SKU: 20763

A marvellous slice of Victorian social history. The entry for 'Matrimonial News' in 'Frederick May's London Press Dictionary and Advertiser's Handbook, 1871' runs as follows: 'MATRIMONIAL NEWS AND SPECIAL ADVERTISER – 2d. F. Farrah, 282, Strand, W.C. Devoted to the promotion of marriage and conjugal felicity.' On the publication of the fifth number of 'Matrimonial News' the periodical was described in a long article in The Saturday Review, 2 July 1870, as 'a curious product of an age of advertising', throwing 'so curious a light upon the present state of opinion touching the time-honoured preliminaries of courtship and “keeping company,”'. The recipient of the letters, John Russell Gubbins (1838-1906) of Bruree House, Limerick, was a horse owner and breeder who married Edith Mabel Legh (1855-1896) in 1889, assuming the name of John Russell Legh. The union would appear to have had less to do with the Matrimonial News than two family inheritances, which left Gubbins's estate worth over £100,000. The three items in the present collection are in good condition, lightly aged and worn. The second of the two letters has its envelope. Both letters are signed 'The Editor | M N'. LETTER ONE (11 February 1874): 3pp., 12mo. Bifolium. The editor (i.e. Frederick Farrah) acknowledges receipt of Gubbins's letter before getting down to business: 'My terms are as follows I charge a fee of 10/- for the first Lady whose address I give you and 5/- for each other, but if you take four or more the fee will be 5/- each. If a marriage result you pay me £20 for a Lady without [last word underlined] property – but if a Lady has property I charge you 5 per Cent on the amount of the Ladys property'. If Gubbins agrees to the terms he is to send him 'Stamps for 10/-', and he will forward his letter to 'Ada'. LETTER TWO (13 February 1874): 4pp., 12mo. Bifolium. With torn envelope bearing a penny red stamp and postmark, addressed to: 'J. Russell Gubbins Esq [middle two words deleted] | Craven Hotel | Craven Street | Strand'. He has received the letter and the ten shillings and has 'sent your letter to “Ada” - Her Address is | Ada | Post Office | Brighton'. He is enclosing 'the usual agreement' (Item Three below), which he asks Gubbins to sign, date, and return. Post script: 'If you would like to consult me personally & see cartes of 500 Ladies you can do so for a fee of 5/- by calling on me at my Private Office any day between one and four oClock – | Private Office | 376 Strand – door round Corner'. THREE: The 'usual agreement' referred to in Item Two above. 1p., 8vo. A printed form, with a few words added in the same hand as Items One and Two. Begins: 'In consideration of being introduced to or put in correspondence with a Lady through the influence of the Proprietor of the “Matrimonial News” and in the event of a Marriage taking place between such Lady and myself, I HEREBY AGREE to pay to the said Proprietor, his heirs or assigns, the sume of [Twenty] Pounds within One month after my said marriage: [...]'