Friday, 14 September 2012

137: The Lost Wedding Day

Lady Helena Davies was betrothed to marry Harold, eldest son of the Earl of Rattigan.  She had been promised in marriage shortly after her birth and she always knew her future was to be entwined with his.  It did no harm that Lord Harry possessed fair foppish hair, clipped pronunciation and a large fortune.

Helena and Harry were to be married on the day of her 18th birthday as was appropriate for a lady of her standing.  The wedding day had been set for a number of years and preparations began in earnest once she entered her teenage years.  They would marry on September 10th, 1752.

Then that Chesterfield fellow came along and brought in the law about changing to the other calendar.  And Helena’s future lay in doubt with those lost 11 days.

The Earl had been happy to contract the children together so many years before, but in the intervening time, his wealth had grown considerably, whilst the fortunes of Lady Helena’s father remained relatively more modest.  The Earl saw an opportunity to secure a richer bride for Lord Harry, and made approaches to a number of minor European royals.

June brought Lady Helena’s father a brief letter, stating the wedding was off as she would never celebrate her 18th birthday, and that the Earl considered all agreements null and void.  Lord Harry had moved to southern Europe to await his own marriage and neither Lady Helena nor her father were to attempt to contact him.

Helena was inconsolable and took to her bed.  Many petitioned the Prime Minister and rabbles gathered outside parliament to protest at the lost days.  As in so many things, some benefitted and saw the opportunity whilst many more suffered and paid many times over for the threat.

Over the months and years that followed ordinary people forgot the lost 11 days and most agreed the effect had been small after all.  Lady Helena did not share that view, however.  She entered a convent, not yet 18 years of age, and died unmarried and still 17 almost 60 years later.

Inspiration: Change to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752

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