Old fashioned? City of London award dowry to 'poor honest young woman'


If you thought dowries in Britain were a thing of the past, think again.

The City of London Corporation has awarded a gift of £150 to a "poor, honest, young woman" from a 19th century dowry fund that was intended to be given to lovers born in the Square Mile.

Pasquale Favale was an Italian man who fell in love with a girl from the City in the late 19th century. He married her and they spent a happy life together.

In 1882 he bequeathed 18,000 Lira to the City and stipulated that each year a portion of the money was to be given to a “poor, honest, young woman, native of London, aged 16 to 25 who has recently been, or are about to be married”

Although the terms might make bestowing the gift difficult – finding a ‘poor’ resident of the City probably poses as much of a challenge as determining whether she is ‘honest’, the tradition continues. Additionally, since few babies have been born in the City for many years, the birth element has also been waived.

The latest recipient of the gift of £150 is 31-year-old chartered accountant, Lorna Emmett, who married her husband in Hampstead in May.

John Tomlinson, Chairman of the Port Health and Environmental Services Committee at the City of London Corporation, which is responsible for managing the dowry, said:

“We’re delighted to continue the tradition of this unique bequest and we wish Lorna and James a long, happy married life. I hope it will help make a memorable contribution for them just as it has done for many other couples for well over a century.”

Dowries are traditionally given from the bride’s family to her husband and is a practice that continues around the world.

Yet not all dowries are seen as romantic traditions and are regarded as responsible for some devastating violence against women.

It was reported this year that a woman in India is killed over her dowry every hour, with over 8,000 women killed over protracted arguments for more lavish dowries and gifts.