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A Brief Marriage

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Mibiri Creek
The English Convent, Brugge
St. Helen's Sandal Magna
Edmund Waterton

Charles Waterton married Anne Mary Edmonstone in Brugge (Bruges), Belgium on 18th May 1829.

Click to enlargeAlthough Anne and Charles were married in May 1829, there was a second ceremony in St. Helen's Church in the parish of Sandal Magna on 20th December 1829, as the entry in the church's marriage register testifies. Walton was then, and still is, in the Church of England Parish of Sandal Magna (although Walton is now a civil parish in its own right).

Anne Mary Edmonstone was the second daughter of Charles Edmonstone, a longstanding friend* of Charles from his days in Demerara. He had attended Anne's christening in 1812, on his return from his first Wandering. At the time the Edmonstone's were living at Mibiri Creek (2). Seventeen years later, this infant would become the wife of the Squire.
[* Of Charles Edmonstone, Charles Waterton said, "he was the most valued friend I ever had in the world".(3)]

Although he had attended the christening as Anne's godfather there is no indication that Charles had formulated a plan to eventually take her as his wife. However, in 1827, Waterton visited the Edmonstones, who were now living in Scotland, and became engaged to Anne. The Edmonstones were by now an unhappy family, ill at ease so far away from their former home in Demerara.

Anne was a Protestant and Charles needed to marry a Catholic, accordingly it was decided that Anne and her sister Eliza, would be sent to the Engels Klooster (English Convent) in Bruges (Brugge) to complete their education. Later, Anne's sisters Helen and Eliza would take up residence at Walton Hall.

The Second Ceremony

Anne was six months pregnant at the time of the second ceremony in December 1829, although, of course, she had actually been married for seven months since May 1829.

The Bruges marriage was conducted in accordance with rites of the Roman Catholic faith. Although the Catholic Emancipation Act was passed by Parliament in 1829, it may have been considered by the Watertons that a Church of England marriage was the best way to make sure that there were no legal complications. Given the Squire's distrust of the established church, i.e. the Church of England, it would have been no light matter for him to have had to undergo such a ceremony.

Their son, Edmund, was born on the 7th April 1830 at Walton Hall, about eleven months after the Watertons' marriage in Brugge. Sadly, Anne died in April 1830, just three weeks after the birth.

In the Sandal Magna Parish Register, the entry states:
Anne Waterton of Walton Hall, a Roman Catholic, was buried without a service by T. Westmoreland, Vicar. (1)

Edmund was destined to play a significant part in the last few years of the Watertons of Walton Hall

Julia Blackburn (2) covers this part of the Waterton story very well in her Chapter "A Brief Marriage".

1. Sandal Magna, a Yorkshire Parish and its People, Mary Ingham and Brenda Andrassy, 1978.
2. Charles Waterton, Traveller and Conservationist, Julia Blackburn, The Bodley Head, London, 1989.
3. The Letters of Charles Waterton of Walton Hall, near Wakefield, edited with Notes by R.A. Irwin. Rockliff, London, 1955.

A list of reference sources is contained on the Links page.


English Convent (Engels Klooster)
English Convent (Engels Klooster) Carmersstraat, Brugge / Bruges
(More about the convent, click here.)

St Helen's, Sandal Magna
St Helen's Church - the church in Sandal Magna.
(click here)


Books about Walton, Charles Waterton, Guyana, and more!
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A Brief Marriage
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