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Cresswell's NarrativeThomas Estcourt Cresswell
A Narrative of the Affair Between Mr. Cresswell and Miss Sc--e: Address'd to G----V----E SC------e, Esq., by Which may be Discover'd the Falsities, Misrepresentation, &c. in a Letter in the General Evening-Post, October 31, signed Lancelot Lee. London: Printed for Charles Green, 1747.
Read the book on the Intenet Archive.

Scrope's AnswerElizabeth Scrope. Miss Scrope's Answer to Mr. Cresswell's Narrative. London: Printed for R. Baldwin, 1749.
Read the book on the Internet Archive.


The contradictory accounts of Thomas Cresswell and Elizabeth Scrope about their relationship are more than just an example of "he said; she said" – although they do represent the genre to an extreme degree.  Before the Clandestine Marriage Bill of 1753 was passed, marriage in England was legal if a couple promised to live together as man and wife, even if they had no witnesses, and even if the marriage was not consummated.  Cresswell took advantage of this state of affairs on at least three successive occasions, and he was living openly with a Miss Warnsford when an account of his double dealings with Scrope was printed in the General Evening-Post.  Cresswell then published his Narrative, in which he confessed freely that he suggested to Scrope they be married secretly, claiming that he promised to acknowledge their marriage if she became pregnant.  He said he did this purely because she suffered a hysterical illness which abated only in his presence, and he hoped having sex with her would calm her and enable her return to health.  Here is an example of his style: "[A]s I stood by her talking of indifferent Things, she took me by the Hand, and asked me to set down, meaning on her Lap, with my Face to her, I did so, kissed her, and told her I thought I was too heavy for her, No, said she, I should be proud to bear your Weight, and clasped me round the Waist, pressed me hard to her, I still kissing of her…"

Scrope's book tells a similar story, but she insisted that she always demanded that they be publicly married.  She said she was deceived by his explanations and blandishments into consenting to a private marriage, and to continuing in a secretive way after their marriage through fear of her grandmother's anger, since she opposed their marriage.  Scrope lamented the social dilemma we have seen before: "so delicate is the Situation of every Woman, that, when her Reputation is once publickly called in Question, no Act of Virtue, in the previous Part of her Life, or the strictest Guard upon her future Behaviour, shall mediate so far in her Favour, as to cover, even the suspicion of one single Blot in her Fame." Nonetheless, she finished her book with a call to the reading public to hold her blameless.

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