There were two well known 18th-century cases of women abducted and married against their will and who later gave evidence against the men who had taken them, and both resulted in execution.
In 1701 seventeen-year-old heiress Pleasant Rawlins was arrested for a non-existent £200 debt. The charge had been trumped up by Haagen Swendsen, a German adventurer who had previously tried, and failed, to woo her. Pleasant was taken to the Star and Garter in Drury Lane, and then to The Vine in Holborn, where Swendsen’s accomplice Mrs. Baynton told her that she would end up in Newgate prison if she did not marry him. After being worn down by threats, and now more in fear of being murdered by her captors than of Newgate, she relented and was married by a Fleet parson, who was kept conveniently upstairs. Swendsen and Baynton were both found guilty; he was hanged, but she “pleaded her belly” (she was pregnant) and was later reprieved.
Swendsen are guilty under a statute of Henry VII (1486):9 ‘if any person shall for lucre take any woman…having substance either in goods or lands, or being heir apparent to her ancestors, contrary to her will; and afterwards she be married to such misdoer…or defiled; such person, and all his accessories, shall be deemed principal felons’ and by statute of Elizabeth (1597): ‘the benefit of clergy is taken away from all such felons.’
In the other case, heiress Lucy Ramsay was inveigled out of a coach by people employed by the defendant, Mr. Browne, and carried to his lodgings in the Strand. She was forced into marriage with Browne the following day with the threat that she would be carried off secretly to France. This would have put her in serious physical danger, as she would have been beyond the reach of her friends with little hope of rescue. Neither woman had given her consent freely, so the court viewed them as unmarried and therefore able to testify against the defendants, whose actions were a form of rape. Browne was executed.
A Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason and Other Crimes and Misdemeanors, 1696-1709, vol 5, page 449
Edmund Bennett and Franklin Fiske Heard, A Selection of Leading Cases in Criminal Law, Volume 2. Little, Brown and Co, Boston, 1869