The Wedding Goose

We came across this article, accidentally, as you do, and with our arguably warped sense of humour we found the wedding story somewhat amusing, so after much deliberation (well not much, if we’re being honest), we thought we would share it with you. Trigger warning, it doesn’t have a happy ending though!

Illustration to Crabbe's poems in the Royal Supplement Pocket Atlas. 1810. © The Trustees of the British Museum
Illustration to Crabbe’s poems in the Royal Supplement Pocket Atlas. 1810. © The Trustees of the British Museum

On 26th November 1811, a young couple, Thomas Paul, a shoemaker and Sarah Waite, a housekeeper to a Mr Hoges, were married at the parish church in Burgh Le Marsh in Lincolnshire.

Marriage Morning. © The Trustees of the British Museum
Marriage Morning. © The Trustees of the British Museum

After the wedding they were due to have their wedding breakfast in the neighbouring village of Orby where the groom’s parents lived, with their family and others guests. Things did not go according to plan however, as the Norfolk Chronicle of 28th December 1811 informs us:

A wedding lately took place between Mr Thomas Paul & Miss Sarah Waite, of Burgh in the Marsh, Lincolnshire, and the parties having gone through the church ceremony, went to the village of Orby, to dine with Mr Joseph Paul, the father of the groom.

The provident Mrs Mary Paul the elder, had prepared a goose to roast for dinner, into the body of which she had put, for stuffing – two penny loaves whole; and in her hurry on this joyous occasion, had added two ounces of gunpowder, which she mistook for black pepper.

The party were assembled around the comfortable blazing fire before dinner, enjoying by anticipation the parts they were going to play in the demolition of the hissing goose; when Mrs Paul took the poker to stir the fire; scarcely had she touched it, when raising the sparks, one of them kindled the combustible stuffing and by the explosion of the powder the goose was split into several pieces.

The explosion was very loud and the flying grease and limbs of the goose put the whole assembly to the rout in the utmost confusion.

None were killed in the affray, but several suits of white which the ladies wore were quite spoiled, and what was to have been the principal dish on the table was wanting at the feast.

So, the moral of this story, check all your ingredients carefully when stuffing poultry and don’t wear white when eating it!

Pehr Hilleström (1733-1816). Bukowskis
Pehr Hilleström (1733-1816). Bukowskis

We wondered what became of Sarah and Thomas after their spectacular wedding feast. In 1816 they had a son, William, followed two years later by twins, appropriately named Thomas and Sarah, and tragically just days after the twins were baptised, Thomas senior, aged 31, died, and three months later their infant daughter Sarah was to follow her father to the grave.

10 thoughts on “The Wedding Goose

  1. gives a whole new dimension to the idea of an explosive relationship with the inlaws

    I am now mopping tea of the screen … read this out to the hubby when I had finished laugh-coughing, and he fell around in mirth.
    You couldn’t pass it up ! thank you for a great laugh.

    Like

  2. Glad to have you back after the summer. The exploding turkey also had me laugh out loud – it’s a good thing I work from home!
    You always find the most amazing artwork to illustrate your stories, like this Pehr Hillstrom painting. I wanted to make sure to tell you how much I appreciate this. And also thank you for providing me some inspiration – I reused a portrait you had found of a young man with a quill pen for a recent article of mine on Wedgwood inkwells.

    Like

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