Questions on Widows, Widowers and Divorcees
I am a widower. When my daughter's engagement is announced in the paper what is the correct form of writing? 1. and x, youngest daughter of Mr. John Smith and the late Mrs. John Smith of Dover, Kent; or 2. and x, youngest daughter of Mr. John and the late Mrs. John Smith of Dover, Kent; or 3. and x, youngest daughter of Mr. John Smith of Dover, Kent and the late Mrs. John Smith; or something else? Many thanks.
I think the preferred wording for your daughter's engagement would be X, youngest daughter of Mr John Smith and the late Mrs Smith, of Dover, Kent. In other words I don't think it is necessary to repeat your Christian name. However, the powers that be on the Court and Social page may have their own editorial policies about these announcements.
I googled "forms of address" hoping to be enlightened as to how I should address a widow and how I should address a divorced lady, on an envelope or on a list of members of a club. I understood that a widow should be accorded the dignity of using her husband's initials, whereas I thought a divorcee's own initials should be used. Is there a set protocol, or is it just a matter of opinion? I look forward to your take on the matter.
Yes, you are quite right. The established form of address for a widow is by her late husband's initials, or indeed by his Christian name (ie Mrs D. M. Russell, or Mrs David Russell). The latter style would indicate very clearly that the lady in question is either married or widowed. The use of a woman's own initials or Christian name (Mrs W. M. Russell or Mrs Wendy Russell) would traditionally imply that she is divorced, although of course a woman might choose to use her own name in a professional capacity - in which case 'Ms' would probably be preferable to 'Mrs' in order to avoid the implication of a divorce having taken place.
These traditional styles of address are, however, more as a result of custom and usage, rather than absolute rules.