Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A Victorian Romance: Lamb v. Fryer, clerk in holy orders.

The Rev. Arthur Girdlestone Fryer arrived in Andover, Hampshire, in 1877. Fresh from Cambridge, he came to be a curate at St. Mary's, the parish church.

Ruddily handsome, the young cleric quickly became a favourite. But two years later, he had to leave for a new assignment in Royal Leamington Spa. Before the move, he became engaged to Miss Kate Lamb. The Lambs were a prominent family in Andover; Kate's brother Thomas was a solicitor and held many influential positions in the town. Kate was much older than Arthur; but the curate joked, "I see the parish register, I know how old all the ladies are in Andover." Arthur's new church was a hundred miles from Andover but he and Kate exchanged daily letters - 900 in a space of a year and a half! It was those letters - "amorous gush," the papers called them - that were hung around the curate's neck when Kate sued him for breach-of-promise to marry in 1881. The celebrated case of Lamb v. Fryer delighted the reading public. A London courtroom rocked with laughter as dozens of Arthur and Kate's letters were read out for the jury. Kate's lawyer charged that the young curate had behaved "as a cur." But the case came down to whether Arthur had made a conditional promise to marry - i.e. that he would never marry as a lowly curate, but only after attaining his own vicarage. The story is told in delightful detail, including excerpts from many of the letters. In addition, the author follows up on the eventual romantic fates of the luckless couple.

The story of the Rev. Mr. Fryer is one of five included in the new Ebook - Clerical Errors - A Victorian Series, Volume 1. ( ($5.49)

For more information, please contact the author at

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