January 19 1815: Byron Honours His Bets

On January 19 1815, Lord Byron writes to John Hay. Byron is writing about a bet that he had made with Hay that he would never marry. The bet had been made six years earlier. Byron had calculated that the odds of him marrying at one hundred to one. He had made bets on these odds which he was now required to pay because of his to marriage to Miss Milbanke. There is some disagreement as to the exact amounts that were wagered, and the memory of various witnesses are summoned, but Byron is scrupulous in paying what he believes to be the correct amounts.  

January 19th. 1815
Dear Sir / Upon the subject of the marriage forfeit – we shall not differ – I will enclose you a draft for the amount the moment I hear that Mr . Hawke has received his which I enclose by this post under cover to you – I would send <it> {yours} by the same conveyance but as the post is not reckoned so secure {in pecuniary conveyances} as it was formerly – I wish to have the arrival of the <former> {one letter} previously ascertained. – – –

My reason for supposing the bet to be only fifty to you was this – the persons present said when I took Mr. Hawke’s guinea that I risked too much – that it ought to be in a proportion of fifty to a thousand – which I offered to take of <K> Capt .Kelly – <which>h {this} he declined & no bet passed between him & me – – in consequence of these remarks I certainly did imagine that in my subsequent wager with you – if wager it may be called – I took one guinea to pay fifty – but as I have already stated – I shall not dispute that point – but am ready to pay the hundred on receiving the favour of an answer. – The Spanish bet – I cannot acknowledge – because I have not the most distant recollection of any such transaction except with Mr . Hawke – whom I duly paid – I asked Major Morgan in St. James’s Street in company with Mr . Dalrymple – (the Major you will recollect was at that dinner {at Brighton}) and he gave it for me – I know that he is since dead – but Mr . Dalrymple will probably recollect the conversation as I begged him to attend to it – I would also refer to Mr. Davies who was of the party. – Most assuredly I had no recollection of such transaction – & could never have claimed the money of you in the event of a different result – & with Mr . Hawke I had a distinct remembrance of what passed between him & me – as the event proved. – – – – –

The hundred I am ready to disburse – on receiving your answer – by the way – in my answer to you in 1811 – I mentioned the marriage bet – and named fifty to you – so it is no new misconception of mine – but as I have before said – I wave that – because I cannot be certain {as I am upon the other –} and have no passion for being positive – unless I feel good grounds for being so – I wish Hawke joy – and enclose  letter for him in another cover yrs. truly

P.S. –
Many thanks for your Congrats.
Halnaby Darlington –


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