Matrimonial delirium seems an apt phrase to describe the hype associated with royal weddings this year. We have been enthralled by Prince William’s wedding, and that of the Queen’s granddaughter Zara may soon cause a bit of a stir in Edinburgh. According to an article in the Perthshire Advertiser, a long time ago in 1840, Abernethy had its own local version of matrimonial delirium. Today the Abernethy section of the PA’s District News seems to be used almost entirely for announcements of forthcoming events rather than of actual news. It is a pity that we no longer see curious, humorous articles such as the one that follows. One wonders who the local correspondent was. He certainly had a good turn of phrase.
“The lieges of this, the ancient capital of Pictdom, so widely and well-known for the general calm current of their temper and blood, have shown of late that it is quite possible for them as well as others to forget the even tenor of their way and expose themselves to the contagion of that afflicting malady - the matrimonial delirium. Within these few days, about ten or a dozen have caught the distemper, and although immediate death is not expected to be the result of any of the cases, yet to every appearance the effects of the disease will be visible upon all those affected through life.
We are sorry to have to state that both young and old are seized indiscriminately. The other day a veteran of fully seventy-three summers took badly, and, strange to say, a buxom quean of mellow twenty-five was seized at the same instant. As we have no resident surgeon, the clergymen of the place, with praiseworthy kindness, have done what they could to mend matters, and it is generally believed that the pious exhortations and blessings are, in the present disorder, more efficacious than pills and plasters.
Various conjectures are afloat as to the probable cause of the disease. Some insist that it has originated in feasting too freely on fresh fish; others that it is entirely owing to the high temperature of the weather; while a third party content themselves with attributing the whole to Providence. At any rate our old town was never known to be in such a condition before.” ( PA 13/8/1840)
Presumably there was an abnormally large number of weddings in 1840. Perhaps we should check official record to see if this was actually the case. The descendants of those involved may well still be living in our midst