Posted by P. Bingham on September 11, 1998 at 20:39:13:
In response to Scottish law?, written by Galleon on September 11, 1998 at 19:26:49
You are correct in that you merely had to say vows before witnesses, What I read was easily interpreted to be a contract as the couples were given a filled out certificate. Here is what Wedding Customs & Folklore by Margaret Baker says, which does specifically back your claim:
...As Fleet marriages died, those at Gretna Green sprang to life. Thomas Pennant in his Tour of Scotland, 1774-5, suggested:
...stop at the little village of Gretna, the resort of all amorous couples whose union the prudence of parents or guardians prohibits. Here the young pair may be instantly united by a fisherman, a joiner, or a blacksmith, who may marry for a fee from two guineas a job, to a dram of whiskey... the high priest... appears in the form of a fisherman, a stout fellow in a blue coat, rolling round his solemn chaps, a quid of tobacco of no uncommon size.
Gretna, in Dumfriesshire, about 9 miles from the border of England and Scotland was first halting-place for runaway couples fleeing from parental wrath and English Law with its tiresome requirements of parent's consent to the marriage of minors, of priests and banns. Scottish marriage law required merely a declaration before witnesses; instant marriage. Many cashed in on the business; George Gordon, an old soldier, officiated at weddings in full but ancient military rig; Joseph Paisley, fisherman, smuggler and tobacoist, was also prominent. The Gretna Green Memoirs asserted, creditably or otherwise, that 7,744 persons were married by one 'priest' alone between 1811 and 1839. The postboys were heavily involved and received half the fees of perhaps 100 guineas from wealthy clients. When the Earl of Westmoreland eloped with Miss Child, the bank heiress, the couiple were pursued by the the bride's enraged father who almost caught them at the border. But the earl drew his pistol, shot Mr. Chil'd leading horse and the lovers reached Gretna safely.
Here is what The Regency Companion says of the process which includes a marriage certificate:
The marriage cerimony performed by Elliot was very simple and followed the pattern of traditional nuptuals. He first asked the couples their names and addresses, then told them to stand up, and asked if they were single. On an affirmative answer, he then asked if they were both there of their own free will (this could be important klater if validity of the marriage was contested). On their "yes" answers, he filled out the certificate and proceeded to the heart of the ceremony which included the groom placing a ring on his bride's left hand, and an admonition, "What God joins together let no man put asunder." Elliot then declared the couple man and wife.
- What are fleet marriages? do you have information aboutn them? nf Constanza 09:13:39 9/14/98 (3)
- Oddities of Scottish and Irish Marriage Law SuzanneR 00:59:09 9/12/98 (1)
- Irish laws P. Bingham 22:57:58 9/12/98 (0)
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