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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July, 2003, 11:18 GMT 12:18 UK
Wife for sale on net
Mel Hoyle agreed to the website auction as 'a joke'
A north Wales man has withdrawn his wife from a internet auction and insists his action was "a joke".

Andy Hoyle advertised his 30-year-old wife Mel on eBay.co.uk where the top bid was 640, but husband Andy said: "I couldn't let her go for that...really she's priceless.

"I also had a man who wanted to swap Mel for a 1000cc Honda VTR SP1 motorbike, and he said he'd throw in the boots, gloves and leathers as part of the deal."

The idea for putting Mel, a hairdresser up for sale came when the Wrexham couple were looking at a the eBay website where contributors put up goods for auction.

"I asked Mel what we could put up and she laughed and said 'Why not me'" said Andy, 34, a satellite and aerial installer.

"We did it for a giggle, and I'm sure that most of the bids we got in were from people with the same sense of humour."

The site got 3,830 hits for Mel before Andy decided to withdraw her from bidding.

"I had a few offers for part exchange and swaps, a lot of them offering an older model. There was no way I was going to trade down," he laughed.

18th century wife sales

Although Andy and Mel enjoyed their joke on the web, the idea of putting up a wife for sale has historical precedence in England and Wales.

A divorce in 18th century was difficult for the aristocracy to obtain and an impossibility for ordinary people with no political clout.

To get over this they devised the means to dissolve unhappy marriages with a wife sale.

So popular was this device that it was only due to Victorian objection that the practice was finally abolished.

When wife selling was at its most popular, there were around 300 sales between the years of 1780 and 1850.

While this method of separation was never legally sanctioned, the law tended to turn a blind eye as long as the sale was agreeable to all parties involved.

Because wife selling was not legal, with no papers being issued to either party making the separation official, these sales were conducted in public to make the separation a witnessed fact.

Market day was the usual venue and it was quite popular to conduct wife sales in a market square, much to the delight of the crowd.

To further link the sale to the market place, the wife to be sold had a halter placed around her neck and was led to the auction block by her husband.

However, these sales were conducted only by mutual consent. A husband could not drag his wife to market and open the bidding if she was reluctant.

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