Three Weddings

It’s February, which means that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Whether or not you’re into the candy hearts and overpriced roses, it’s a perfect opportunity to take a look at the matrimonial adventures of Kate and Thomas Cochrane. These kids got married not once, not twice, but three times – and yes, to each other every time.
The River Annan near the village of Annan, Scotland.
#1: The Scottish Marriage, 1812

What can be more romantic than an elopement? Thomas is 37-year-old a war hero, Kate is about 16, adventurous, beautiful, and charming (but penniless). The couple heads off to Annan, Scotlandby coach for a private ceremony, so secret that it was concealed from Thomas’ family for months.

But the ceremony is far from romantic! After marrying his young bride, Thomas flies off to London – alone! – leaving Kate to trail behind. Back in the city, Kate returns to her aunt’s house, and the couple do not share a home for many more months. When news of the marriage breaks, Thomas’ rich uncle, incensed that his nephew did not marry the wealthy heiress his family had intended for him, cuts Thomas off from a sizable inheritance.

#2: Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Speldhurst, Kent, 1818
St. Mary the Virgin, Kent.

Unlike the first ceremony, which had no priest or church, Kate and Thomas’ second marriage took place with a traditional ritual according to the Church of England. The ceremony was held in the small parish church of St. Mary the Virgin on a Monday morning in June. Thomas paid an extra fee for a license for the ceremony. By this time, Kate and Thomas had two young children, although he signs the register as a “bachelor” and she as a “spinster,” the common term for an unmarried woman.

Interestingly, one other couple was married in the church that same day. The bride, a Sarah Morris, made a mark in the register in lieu of signing her name.

Sadly, the church that Kate and Thomas were married in no longer stands, The parish, however, is still active and the present church building was erected in the late 1800s on the basis of a previous medieval design.

#3: Again in Scotland, 1825

The third and final marriage was held according to the rites of the Church of Scotland. It is believed that this ceremony took place so that Thomas could receive an inheritance from one of his relations!

Kate and Thomas traveled to Scotland during the summer and autumn of 1825, retracing part of their earlier elopement route, visiting the villages of Fife, and spending time in Edinburgh. While in Edinburgh, Kate caught the attention of Sir Walter Scott, who promptly dashed off six verses of poetry in admiration!

Sources:

Information on the first and third marriages drawn from Cochrane: The Real Master and Commanderby David Cordingly.

Information and documents related to the second marriage acquired through the kind assistance of staff at the Kent County Archives.

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