Finding a wealthy wife - Georgian style...


23 June 2023
'The Rich Ladies Treasury' was an 18th-century directory packed full of information, designed specifically for men hoping to land themselves a wealthy wife, as Else Churchill revealed in our recent Study Club meeting…

Rachel Bellerby reports on an intriguing aspect of Else Churchill’s recent talk.

The fascinatingly-named Master key to the rich ladies treasury. Or the widower and batchelor’s directory containing an exact alphabetical list of the dowager… widows and spinsters in Britain. With an account of their fortunes was published in 1742 and designed with the express purpose of helping people to find a wealthy spouse.

As Else explained during the meeting, there is a surprisingly wide range of name-rich directories available both online and in libraries and archives around the country. Master Key, for example, gave name, address, the stocks and shares held by the wealthy woman, as well as their estimated wealth. We wonder how many of these ladies were pursued as a result of their inclusion in the directory... 

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You can explore the directory for yourself on the British Library website

We’d love to welcome you to our Study Club meetings, where we meet monthly on Zoom for a presentation and Q&A by an expert from the world of family history. Membership is free to magazine subscribers and members of Family Tree Plus.

(Image copyright Rijks Museum)