From the D&S Times of April 9, 1871

150 YEARS AGO, the D&S reported how a widower from York had advertised in its columns for a wife – he had, it said, “arrived at the winter period of existence but still had inclinations to again enter the state of wedded bliss”.

Cruelly, young men of Darlington “intent on a lark”, had written back saying that they were a lady with £60 annual income and “no end of charms”.

“The letters were in the delicate calligraphy of a lady,” said the D&S, “and there could be no doubt.”

After a further exchange, the pair decided to meet an inn in Darlington. “An afternoon train brought the luckless man, and forthwith he hastened him with all speed to the appointed trysting place,” said the D&S. “There stood the lady in propria personae and, after a sumptuous tea, the happy couple started for a walk round the town, and a jeweller’s shop was visited, where probably the wedding ring was procured.

“But, alas! for dreams of human felicity.”

Back at the inn, the lady’s brother made a noisy entrance and dragged her away from her betrothed, and then the unfortunate fellow was set upon by the conspirators.

“The poor old man had to ‘shell out’ with the best grace he could muster, and his new found acquaintances drank his health and made him the sport of their graceless witticisms,” said the paper. “Not till the next morning, we are told, did he finally rid himself of their acquaintance.”