Matthew and the practical joke

A group of people from Maryland were drinking at the house of Henry Hollingsworth. Some of them knew Matthew Risley and fell into conversation with him about marriage. They heard that he had married a couple in Maryland and asked whether he would marry a couple now. He told them yes, for twenty pounds. Then he agreed to do it for two pieces of eight. When they asked him, what if she was an heiress, he agreed to do it for a pot of beer. Whereupon they called for two pots of beer to give him and he told them that she must get up very early in the morning and take him with her on the horse and he would do the marriage. But they were in earnest to be married that night, so he went and got a Bible and so proceeded as far as they thought they could well let him, and then one of the company untied the morning gown that the “woman” had on and so discovered him to be a man.

Matthew was hauled into the court for presuming to marry a couple against the laws of the province, and severely punished. 1

  1. Court records of Chester County, 10th month 1698.

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