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The well-heeled were aware that there were scurrilous and ruthless fortune hunters looking to ensnare wealthy heiresses. For some couples there was heartbreak; for others, resignation.
Beyond doubt, most people stayed strictly within the bounds of propriety, but in the mid to late 1700s, more than one girl in three was pregnant when she walked down the aisle.
In parts of Britain, 50 percent of brides were great with child.
Many a modern mother and father brood about the matches their sons and daughters will make. "Distance," as Thomas Campbell wrote in 1799, "lends enchantment," and two centuries later, for many worry-ridden parents, the perfect courtship model follows in the footsteps of Jane Austen's smoldering Mr.
Darcy and the demure Miss Elizabeth Bennett, where ne'er a lusty thought or word between them passed.
The higher up the colonial ladder of success and status, the greater was the pressure for the children to marry well.