This article addresses the relative dearth of work on courtship and marriage motivations for early nineteenth-century England. Focusing on rural-industrial Lancashire, the article draws on a rare conjunction of sources: an autobiography, a series of love-letters and letters from friends, relating to the nascent textile entrepreneur David Whitehead and his intended wife Betty Wood. Triangulating these sources suggests that some of the seemingly dominant influences on courtship and marriage seen in other studies, such as the economic status of partners, family and kin, had little part in this drama. Rather, issues of love, destiny and, above all, religious suitability dictated the pace, content and outcome of the courtship process. Against this backdrop, it was Betty Wood, rather than David Whitehead, who held the levers of power in the courtship. The article also explores other aspects of courtship, most especially the relationship between courtship intensity/fragility and the spatial dynamics of the marriage market.