Oddities of Scottish and Irish Marriage Law
Posted by SuzanneR on September 12, 1998 at 00:59:09:
In response to Gretna Green, written by P. Bingham on September 11, 1998 at 20:39:13
As it happens, I am reading Wilkie Collins' Man and Wife (serialized 1870). Anyway, one of the characters, a woman who has been 'dishonored' by a man, tries to persuade him to marry her by saying:
"You know that we are in Scotland. You know that there are neither forms, ceremonies, nor delays in marriage, here. The plan I have proposed to you, secures my being received at an inn, and makes it easy and natural for you to join me there afterwards...A man and a woman who wish to be married (in Scotland) have only to declare themselves married--and the thing is done."
But what is more interesting to me is the reference to an Irish marriage law earlier in the book:
"By the Irish statute of George II, every marriage, celebrated by a Popish priest, between two Protestants, or between a Papist and any person who has been a Protestant within twelve months before the marriage, is declared null and void. And by two other acts of the same reign such a celebration of marriage is made a felony on the part of the priest. The clergy in Ireland or other religious denominations have been relieved from this law. But it still remains in force so far as the Roman Catholic priesthood is concerned."
In the book a scoundrel of a man uses this "loophole" to get free of his marriage to his wife--the mother of the dishonored girl I first mentioned. (At the time of his marriage, the scoundrel had only recently converted to Catholicism to please his wife to be. Therefore, he was a Protestant within 12 months of his marriage.)
Anyone else ever read this book, or hear of this law? I feel rather sorry for the priest who committed a felony by officiating over such a marriage!
- Irish laws P. Bingham 22:57:58 9/12/98 (0)
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