‘The Priest Refused to Marry Us’: Mixed-Race Couple Share Their 73-Year Story of Love and Prejudice

This is an emotional and inspiring read about a mixed-race couple who, despite the backlash from their community, family, and clergyman, withstood their ground, proving that love conquers all.

Trudy Menard, a British native, and Barclay Patoir, born in British Guiana, now called Guyana, have shared a long-lasting relationship. However, for these two, it was not love at first sight. In fact, Menard was initially skeptical about being in the same room with Patoir, a former engineer.

Eventually, they became friends, and their relationship blossomed into a romance that had been in existence for more than seven decades.

In 2017, these two unlikely couples of their generation, a white woman and a black man revealed how their strong love blurred their differences and fought through the prejudices witnessed.

THE FEAR PRECEDING THE LOVE

Trudy would never have met Barclay if she had retained her job at Bryant and May’s match factory. Following the destruction of the building in a bomb attack, she sought a new job at Rootes aircraft factory in Speke.

Simultaneously, Barclay migrated to Britain, volunteering for British Guiana’s mother country, as there was a lack of engineering skills due to World War II.

Hundreds of civilians moved to Liverpool in Britain to increase war production throughout the war. During his time at the factory, where he worked on Halifax bombers, Barclay was paired with Trudy.

The young British lady detested working with a man of color she had never seen before; it also frightened her. Trudy rejected the offer to work as his assistant but was threatened that her job was on the line.

Eventually, they became partners but maintained a noticeable distance. They did not engage in any conversation until Barclay displayed some gentlemanly behavior. He started by bringing tea and sandwiches. They developed a friendship and shared ideas on history and Liverpool in no time.

THE FIRST DATE THAT COMMANDED REACTIONS

People noticed their friendliness and often talked about how they spent time discussing. One day, fate happened. Work moved slowly, and workers were allowed to take time off.

They went out on a first date to Southport after boarding a train. Menard later visited Barclay in his hostel. This outing stirred mixed reactions. According to Trudy:

“We got some dirty looks then. I could tell some people were talking about us on the train, but we took no notice, did we, dear?”

She continued: “When we got there, we had something to eat, and on the way back, we went to his place, the hostel, for a cup of tea. And all the lads were so happy to meet me.”

PRIEST REFUSED TO BLESS THEIR UNION

Although Liverpool was one of the first places that permitted black settlements in the country, racism was very prevalent, and the couple knew this.

Still, they did not allow it to hinder their love for each other. Instead, they plotted ways to handle it. Trudy refused to tell her mother about the romance for a while.

Eventually, when Trudy’s mother found out, the factory worker was thrown out of the house. However, it was still not enough to deter their love story. For Trudy, she could not hold back her love for Barclay following a Richard Tauber concert where he sang “My Heart and I.”

This became their theme song, and by 1944, the British natives decided to tie the knot. The couple proceeded with a catholic wedding, but the priest refused to bless the service. He said:

“There’s so many colored men coming over here and going back home, leaving the women with children. So I’m not marrying you.”

Following the rejection from the priest, they headed to Liverpool Register Office, where they married. Later, they moved to Manchester and expanded their family with two adorable daughters.

THE SECRET TO THEIR LONG-LASTING MARRIAGE

Eventually, Trudy’s mother accepted her choice, and the couple had a second wedding blessed by another Catholic priest.

It was not an easy job, but these two phenomenal couples scaled through by choosing to understand and support each other.

When asked about the secret of their marriage, they revealed that they barely argue and never aggravate each other.

While Trudy jokingly added that she could not peg her husband’s unique quality, Barclay confessed that she was a good wife.