Mary Smith and William Sharp had intended to marry but for some reason Robert, Marys father had objected and stopped Mary from attending the wedding. Banns for the marriage had been read on the 11th, 18th & 25 Jul 1802, a number of publications report the year as 1807, I believe this to be a misprint that's been copied time and time again.
Some reports say that William returned from the church and went stright to bed, most say at age 30 he took to his bed, William would have been 30 in 1807, that means he moped around for 5 years.
reports say that Morgan was the lanlord of the Devonshire Arms where
Mary Smith was barmaid and where young William used to go, Morgan did
not go to the Devonshire till 1812, so he can't have intervened with
the barn door order as suggested in Yorkshire Oddities, Incidents, and
Strange Events, Volume 1. Depending on when Three Laps took to his bed
the Devonshire was tenanted by Ann Richardson during 1802 & by her
son George in 1807. (Landlord information provided by Eddie Kelly)
the daughter of Robert & Mary Smith of Bottoms Farm, Newsholme
Dean. She had a brother Joseph. Prior to 1802 Marys mother also called
Mary must have died, because Nov 1801 Robert Smith married Phoebe
Sharp daughter of William Sharp of Whorles Farm. One would assume that
William would have had to pay some sort of dowry on this marriage. In
William Sharps will he says regarding Smith making a claim that he
should be refused “if he make any claim for money which I stand
indebted to him on his marriage to my daughter Phoebe.” Was there
some rift over money at Phebes marrage that caused this resentment in
William Sharp the elder wrote his will in 1817, by which time all his daughters were married, Mary to Thomas Blenkarn. Elizabeth to James Southwell. Ann to Ferdinando Scarborough. Phoebe to Robert Smith.
father William is portrayed as miserly, yet he made adequate provision
for his son and his grandson. William Snr could easily have placed
William Jnr in the workhouse and left nothing for his grandson but
instead ensured they both would be provided for. This would have had a
very draining effect on the income from the properties that should
have gone to his siblings. It seems to have been Williams's choice
where he slept, when he first went to his bed his father, according to
later accounts was expecting the state of melancholy to pass and for things to return to normal. His mother
died in 1809, it must have been troubling for her to see her son
in this state. How deep had Willaim plunged into his deep
depression when his father died?
We now turn our attention to the reports that William Snr & William Jnr if out in the fields or moor, should they encounter other people they would drop down behind a wall and hide. This is not the behaviour of a successful business man. We would go so far to say this is the behaviour of someone who wants to avoid the ridicule, questions and scorn of the towns folk. The news of the none attendance of the bride would have spread like wild fire, there would have been much finger pointing and blame laying, I would expect that both Williams did everything in their power to avoid people. Mary Smith now with a young child and the talk of the town would not have been good wife material and would have been subject to much finger pointing. She would have been tied to her father for a roof over her head, it was 1820 when Robert Smith died, Bill Sharp would not have been in a suitable mental state having been in his bed for 13 years now for Mary to consider a reconciliation between her & Bill.
Thousands assembled in Keighley church and grave - yard, where he was buried, to pay their last tribute of wonder at his obsequies. The coffin excited much attention from its extraordinary size, being more like a great oak chest than a coffin; it was two feet four inches in depth, and so heavy that it required eight men with strong ropes to lower it into the grave. The weight of the coffin and its contents was estimated at 480 lbs.
Bills father was notorious for his niggardly ways, and from some documented accounts I think we can assume that Bill was suffering from some kind of mental illness long before he was jilted, and this might have been why on that fateful day in 1807 his intended father in law locked his daughter, Mary Smith of Newholme Dean, in the house so that she could not be married.
This had not been the first time Bill had taken to his bed, Ian Dewhirst tell us that an account in the Preston Chronicle how Bill had saved up three guineas, which his father took from him, Bill took to his bed saying he would never work again.
Note: It is said that the name 3 laps was given to his father, who on taking a piece of cloth to the tailor to make a jacket, he was told there was not enough fabric to make the traditional 4 laps (pleats), the tailor was told there was no more fabric and to make the coat with 3 laps.
There is an excellent article in Ian Dewhirst't Victorian Keighley Characters.