Joseph Timperon broke poor Sally Simpson’s heart, in a tale that brings to mind the old song:
O soldier, soldier, won’t you marry me, with your musket, fife and drum?
Oh no, sweet maid, I cannot marry you, for I have no coat to put on
For while Joseph Timperon was a butcher, not a soldier, he came up with plenty of excuses as to why he could not marry poor Sally – stringing her along for almost two decades.
Promises, promises (excuses, excuses)
In 1828, a breach of promise case led to ‘no little merriment’ in court.
Sarah Simpson (Sally Simpson), aged 58, sued Joseph Timperon, aged 62, after he married a Miss Hannah Farish, aged 73/74 on November 10, 1827, at Holme Cultram.
Sally Simpson kept a shop in Wigton. Joseph Timperon was a butcher at Kilswick. And they’d known each other about 19 years – during which time, he’d often talked of marrying her.
His first excuse not to was that her father was still alive, and would nor consent.
Sally Simpson reminded him of his promise when her father died.
His next excuse was that his sisters were not provided for, he could not turn them out of doors, and they would not accept her into the house.
Sadly, while there were ‘various other promises’ of marriage after this, the excuses aren’t detailed.
Mr Blackburn, for Sally Simpson, said Joseph Timperon had told her it was totally false he was going to desert her for another. He’d had the marriage licence for Hannah Farish in his pocket when he said it.
For love – or money?
He’d told someone else that licence was worth at least £5,000: Hannah Farish owned property to that amount.
Mr Blackburn also told the court the case was no laughing matter. Sally Simpson had been defrauded and suffered disappointment and misery.
The court did laugh, however, when witness Thomas Storey described seeing Sally Simpson come out of her cottage (in about 1824) with a tub in her hand to feed the pigs. Joseph Timperon had sat her on his knee and said: “If ever I marry, I’ll marry you, Sally Simpson.”
Sally’s cottage was a single room, and her shop had things in the window: unspecified, but I think the suggestion was baked goods.
Eleanor Storey, Thomas’ wife, backed up the story. As did Allan Bell, of Wigton.
Sarah Scott, of Wigton, said Sally Simpson had asked her once if she had her cap ready. Sally wanted her to be ready to be her bridesmaid.
Thomas Carruthers said Joseph Timperon was very respectable, with estate at Aldert, Whitelee, Kelsick, and a field at Waverton: his property before marriage was worth about £120 a year.
Thomas Carruthers had paid Miss Farish about £116 a year for an estate. Joseph Timperon succeeded him as tenant – and with half a year, married his landlady.
Mr Courtenay, for Joseph Timperon, said the affair was too ridiculous for serious damages. His lordship (unnamed) suggested the jury might think a small sum in damages would meet the justice of the case.
Sympathy – and a sensation
The jury took twenty minutes to come up with a verdict in favour of Sally Simpson, and said Joseph Timperon should pay her £350 damages.
This causes ‘a considerable sensation’ in court.
I don’t know what happened to lovelorn Sally Simpson. But the fickle Joseph stayed with his bride:
1841 census, Broome Park, Holme Cultram
Joseph Timperon, 70, farmer Hannah, 75, two male and two female servants