Finding Family

One woman's obsession with family history.

In the early years of the Swan River Colony there weren’t a lot of choices with regards to marriage. There may have been more opportunities to meet people whilst living in Perth but, if you were living in rural areas, the opportunities may have been few and far between.

Those people struggling to find a match and who were overwhelmed with the desire to marry turned to the advertising columns of the newspapers. Most often they were men seeking women for matrimony and they listed their desires (be they none or extensive) and also painted themselves in a positive light.

An illustration of souls seeking marriage by any means possible, they offer an interesting and unique insight into a different aspect of early colonial life in Western Australia and the difficulties in finding love.

Perhaps one of the earliest ads, this one was printed in The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal in 1837 and consisted of two gentlemen both looking for wives.


Placed in the Inquirer in 1841, this gentlemen hoped for a lady with “a mind capable to enlighten the dark shadows of his earthly pilgrimage.


This shepherd from Tipperary (near York) wasn’t too fussed (1847). He  professed himself happy with any lady in question as long as she didn’t scold and wasn’t older than 90.


Another man from Tipperary described himself in the “meridian of life” (1848). He stated he was portly, reasonably sober and had given up tobacco which he described as an “obnoxious weed“. He was also specific with regards to age. No women over 30 need apply.


In an unusual act, Simon Martin provided his full name on his matrimonial advertisement (1850). It seems he didn’t have much luck with it however. The WA Births, Deaths and Marriages lists Simon as not marrying until 1854 (he married Emily Doust in Toodyay).


In 1855, three friends from York who went by the nicknames Larkins, Giglamps and Bouncer, decided to advertise in the hope that the newly arrived female immigrants would see the ad and respond. They made sure to make their ad eye catching by stating in large letters, “Wives Wanted!!!“.


Finally, I thought I’d end this Trove Tuesday post with a rather amusing ad (1858). A.H. desired his intended to be 22 or 23, good looking, musical, talented and (very specifically) in possession of a couple of hundred head of cattle, registered and branded according to law.



3 thoughts on “Trove Tuesday – Matrimonial Advertising

  1. crissouli says:

    I think I prefer the one who didn’t want anyone over 90… They are incredible aren’t they. I’ve seen quite a few as well.

  2. cassmob says:

    I love the pragmatists…give me some cattle and be not older than 90!

  3. What a hoot! I had no idea there were such early personal ads

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