Jump the Broom Marriage

This is a short piece from Kilvert’s Diary, excerpts from the cleric Francis Kilvert’s life in the 1870s.

When researching my book on wife selling, I heard a lot about the ancient tradition of jumping the broom, but no actual accounts. Here Kilvert describes what he thinks was such an event, but the details are not clear. He notes the presence of ‘gipsies’, one young girl in the parish school entranced him with her beauty, but again, it is not clear what the term means. If they were in the local school, were they settled there?

This morning [11 November 1871] Catherine Price of the New Inn was married to Davies, a young Painscastle blacksmith before the Hay registrar. What I call a gipsy ‘jump the broom’ marriage. The wedding feast was at the New Inn which is now shut up as an inn and abolished. As I passed the house I heard music and dancing … in an upper room, unfurnished, tramp, tramp, tramp, to the jingling of a concertina, the stamping was tremendous. I thought they wold have brought the floor down. They seemed to be jumping round and round. When I came back the dance seems to have degenerated into a romp and the girls were squealing as if they were bing kissed or ticked and not against their will.

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