The Elopement of Joseph Teasdale

Copy of a newspaper account of the elopement of Joseph Teasdale, Ousby (1832-1901) and Mary Anne Barker, Northallerton, (1835-1899)

     In Westmorland and Cumberland lived a young lady who, it appears from the story, was under the guardianship of her brother, their parents being dead.  This young lady, in defiance of the usages of genteel society, thought it fit to become her own mistress in love matters, and absolutely fell in love without asking the consent of her guardian.  The object of her passion was a young farmer’s son, who, through the kindness of her brother, had been allowed to come to the Hall at least once a year, at sheep shearing.

     Some time ago, however, the brother began to suspect that an attachment had sprung up between his sister and the young farmer, and though nothing was said on the subject the former was forthwith subjected to a strict surveillance.  The clipping day came, and there was a great muster at the Hall; the young lady looked and looked for the appearance of her lover, but he came not.  He had been purposely omitted from the invited list.  A communication passed between the lovers; they met the same night, when it is probable that the plan of the elopement was finally arranged.

     Tuesday morning soon arrived, the young lady left her brother’s home, at no great distance from which she was met by the young farmer.  Away they hastened to the nearest railway station en route for Gretna.  Tickets having been procured, they awaited the arrival of the train with an anxiety of which those who have been placed in similar circumstances can alone form an idea.  At length the shrill but distant whistle announces its approach; the danger arising from the brief delay is forgotten with the approach of security; onward it comes, the white vapour belching from the funnel.  Happiness is before them.   The lady presses closer to her lover, when suddenly a rough hand is laid upon her shoulder.  She starts, she turns, what dark eye meets her there?  Tis her brother’s, fixed upon the pair!

Joseph Teasdale and Mary Anne Barker

     The fair one, however, did not drop on her knees to implore grace; on the contrary, she gave her persecutor a slap on the cheek, and asked him what business he had to interfere in a matter which concerned herself alone.   She had made her choice and would abide by it.  Away she was hurried, when she made a determined stand, and exclaimed, “Never fear Joseph, neither time nor place shall change me.  I’m yours, I’ll be true.  We’ll give him the go-by yet, the great …….!”

     That night the desperate fair one found herself one hundred miles from the foot of Cross Fell, in the custody of certain parties at Birkenhead, who were instructed to guard their charge with rigorous vigilance.  But “Love laughs at Locksmiths” – bars and prison doors yield to its gentle touch.  After being about a fortnight in durance vile, her lover accompanied by a friend presented himself under her bedroom window.  Having first thrown out her clothes, she descended with their assistance.

     Shortly after the young farmer left home, the brother of the ward became cognizant of his absence went to the nearest railway station, and discovered that he had gone by train up to Liverpool.  The alarm was immediately given, and there was a general look-out for the fugitives.  In the morning the keepers at Birkenhead discovered that their prisoner had escaped, and telegraphed to that effect.

     The lovers were aware that it would be impossible for them to escape if they proceeded north by railway.  They therefore remained a short time concealed in Liverpool, and having ascertained the hour when the next packet sailed, they put themselves under the protection of Father Neptune, and soon found themselves safe on the western shore of Scotland from whence they hastened to Gretna, where the star of repose burst in upon their long night of feverish anxiety.

     It appears that the young lady had found the means to communicate with her lover from Birkenhead.  The time of his coming had doubtless been arranged beforehand, as well as the plan of escape, which was crowned with complete success.

     The farmer is a very respectable young man, and it does not appear that the lady has made a bad match!

Submitted by Linda Robinson

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