weddings

Jomay

Hi, Jo here.

On a Regency chat list we got talking about weddings at the same time as I was researching aspects for my MIP Too Dangerous for a Lady. (Out next April.) I thought I'd share some of what I learned here. None of it was entirely new to me, but there were aspects that were interesting.

The law about weddings changed in 1753/4 so this is about the situation after that and not in Scotland, which kept its old ways, leading to Gretna Green etc.

The law relating to weddings was designed to prevent abuses such as bigamy and the marriage of underage people without the consent of parent or guardian. Everything should be public and clear.

The simplest method was by banns. "The banns of matrimony shall be published in the church where they dwell three several Sundays or holidays, in the time of divine service." If the couple live in different parishes then the banns must be published in both, so everyone who knows them knows what they're up to.


Marriage by common licence was an alternative to banns. Oaths had to be sworn that all was legal, and a bond posted that the oaths were true. This was popular in the Regency with those who could afford it because banns were considered vulgar. Having one's intimate intentions declared before everyone in the parish! Horrors!

Whether by banns or licence, the marriage had to be "openly solemnized in the parish church where one of the parties dwelleth, or the church mentioned in the licence, between the hours of eight and twelve in the morning." If the marriage wasn't celebrated in the church of one of them, I think there would be questions if there wasn't a good reason. The word "openly" is important. It meant that the wedding couldn't be private. Anyone could enter the church and witness it.  Again, it had to be open to the scrutiny of those who knew them.

This was why the Special Licence was very popular with the beau monde. As the law book I'm quoting from says, "But by special licence or dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Marriages especially of persons of quality, are frequently in their own houses, out of canonical hours, in the evening, and often solemnized by others in other churches than where one of the parties lives, and out of time of divine service, &c."

I suspect that the main attraction wasn't evening or other churches, but the private home. There the lord and lady could wed without hoi polloi gawking at them. My impression is that they didn't often marry at their country estates, perhaps because there everyone around would expect to take part?

Once I looked, I found a number of announcement of marriages by Special Licence. 

By special licence, at the earl of Albemarle's, in St. James's-square, Mr. Coke, of Norfolk, to lady Anne Keppel, second daughter of his lordship. (I peeped behind the pages of history to find that she was 50 years his junion, but it was apparently a love match. There's more here.)

AnnekeppelAnne Coke with one of her five children.

By special licence, at lord Westmorelandโ€™s house in Berkeley square, by the bishop of Cloyne, Lord Boringdon, to Lady Augusta Fane, second daughter of the earl of Westmoreland.

At St. George's church, Hanover-square, by special licence, James Ogilby, Esq. second son of John Ogilby, Esq of Ardnargle in the county 'of Londonderry, to Miss Rush, daughter of the late George Rush, Esq. of Farthinghoe, Northamptonshire

They might have had a Special Licence in order to marry in a fashionable London church which was the parish of neither, but I believe they could have done that with an ordinary licence. Anyone know? They may have wanted to marry in the afternoon, or it might simply have been the cachet. (He was 29, she was 21, so rather more normal, except she died the next year. Childbirth? He never remarried.)

In looking around I stumbled on this one. At Gretna Green, the Hon. Mr. Lambton, to Miss Cholmondeley, of Cholmondley in Cheshire. The gentleman has 60,000 a year, and the lady a fortune of 20,000.Why Gretna?

He was underage. He was a handsome young man, judging from the picture here. Lambton

Enough of diversions. There we have the basics. Banns, licence, special licence.

How do you like the weddings in your historical romance? Church in the morning or private home in the evening? Better with banns in the village church? Or even an elopement to Scotland? 

Do you have a favorite elopement romance?

I found this reference to a marriage which sounds a lot like the grand wedding of Beth and Lucien in An Unwilling Bride.
UB800This evening, at the house of lady Perth, in Grosvenor-square, by special licence, the right honourable the earl of Moira, to the countess of Loudon. The ceremony was performed by the bishop of London; the prince of Wales gave away the bride's hand; and the nuptials were attended by a brilliant circle of the nobility, their friends.

AndelIn A Shocking Delight, David and Lucy were planning to marry in her parish church. In Too Dangerous for a Lady I think they're heading for a Special Licence for lack of an attractive parish. But we'll see. It's not quite there yet.

Cheers,

Jo

120 thoughts on “weddings”

  1. I never knew the difference between a license and a special license. Thanks for the info.
    My favorite elopement is in Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter. I just adore how the hero takes care of his bride through the brutal rushed trip ahead of her greedy family.

    Reply
  2. I never knew the difference between a license and a special license. Thanks for the info.
    My favorite elopement is in Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter. I just adore how the hero takes care of his bride through the brutal rushed trip ahead of her greedy family.

    Reply
  3. I never knew the difference between a license and a special license. Thanks for the info.
    My favorite elopement is in Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter. I just adore how the hero takes care of his bride through the brutal rushed trip ahead of her greedy family.

    Reply
  4. I never knew the difference between a license and a special license. Thanks for the info.
    My favorite elopement is in Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter. I just adore how the hero takes care of his bride through the brutal rushed trip ahead of her greedy family.

    Reply
  5. I never knew the difference between a license and a special license. Thanks for the info.
    My favorite elopement is in Lisa Kleypas’ Devil in Winter. I just adore how the hero takes care of his bride through the brutal rushed trip ahead of her greedy family.

    Reply
  6. This is wonderful information and clarifies a lot of what we sought of take for granted in Regency romance. Such a pity I’ve set my current experiment in 1751-2…which also happen to be the years they changed the calendar. So many pitfalls in history.

    Reply
  7. This is wonderful information and clarifies a lot of what we sought of take for granted in Regency romance. Such a pity I’ve set my current experiment in 1751-2…which also happen to be the years they changed the calendar. So many pitfalls in history.

    Reply
  8. This is wonderful information and clarifies a lot of what we sought of take for granted in Regency romance. Such a pity I’ve set my current experiment in 1751-2…which also happen to be the years they changed the calendar. So many pitfalls in history.

    Reply
  9. This is wonderful information and clarifies a lot of what we sought of take for granted in Regency romance. Such a pity I’ve set my current experiment in 1751-2…which also happen to be the years they changed the calendar. So many pitfalls in history.

    Reply
  10. This is wonderful information and clarifies a lot of what we sought of take for granted in Regency romance. Such a pity I’ve set my current experiment in 1751-2…which also happen to be the years they changed the calendar. So many pitfalls in history.

    Reply
  11. I loved reading this article…At St. George’s church, Hanover-square, by special licence, James Ogilby, Esq. second son of John Ogilby, Esq of Ardnargle in the county ‘of Londonderry, to Miss Rush, daughter of the late George Rush, Esq. of Farthinghoe, Northamptonshire…surprised he never remarried…anything else about him?

    Reply
  12. I loved reading this article…At St. George’s church, Hanover-square, by special licence, James Ogilby, Esq. second son of John Ogilby, Esq of Ardnargle in the county ‘of Londonderry, to Miss Rush, daughter of the late George Rush, Esq. of Farthinghoe, Northamptonshire…surprised he never remarried…anything else about him?

    Reply
  13. I loved reading this article…At St. George’s church, Hanover-square, by special licence, James Ogilby, Esq. second son of John Ogilby, Esq of Ardnargle in the county ‘of Londonderry, to Miss Rush, daughter of the late George Rush, Esq. of Farthinghoe, Northamptonshire…surprised he never remarried…anything else about him?

    Reply
  14. I loved reading this article…At St. George’s church, Hanover-square, by special licence, James Ogilby, Esq. second son of John Ogilby, Esq of Ardnargle in the county ‘of Londonderry, to Miss Rush, daughter of the late George Rush, Esq. of Farthinghoe, Northamptonshire…surprised he never remarried…anything else about him?

    Reply
  15. I loved reading this article…At St. George’s church, Hanover-square, by special licence, James Ogilby, Esq. second son of John Ogilby, Esq of Ardnargle in the county ‘of Londonderry, to Miss Rush, daughter of the late George Rush, Esq. of Farthinghoe, Northamptonshire…surprised he never remarried…anything else about him?

    Reply
  16. The common license had to be from a bishop of the parish in which one of the couple lived.They had to name the church in that parish in which they planned to be married.
    One needed a special license to marry outside of one’s parish or the parish of the spouse. of course, those who attended Parliament or the law courts usually lived in the parish of St. George.
    There were those who wanted a special license for the snaob appeal or to marry at some other church, or at a time other than between 8 and noon.

    Reply
  17. The common license had to be from a bishop of the parish in which one of the couple lived.They had to name the church in that parish in which they planned to be married.
    One needed a special license to marry outside of one’s parish or the parish of the spouse. of course, those who attended Parliament or the law courts usually lived in the parish of St. George.
    There were those who wanted a special license for the snaob appeal or to marry at some other church, or at a time other than between 8 and noon.

    Reply
  18. The common license had to be from a bishop of the parish in which one of the couple lived.They had to name the church in that parish in which they planned to be married.
    One needed a special license to marry outside of one’s parish or the parish of the spouse. of course, those who attended Parliament or the law courts usually lived in the parish of St. George.
    There were those who wanted a special license for the snaob appeal or to marry at some other church, or at a time other than between 8 and noon.

    Reply
  19. The common license had to be from a bishop of the parish in which one of the couple lived.They had to name the church in that parish in which they planned to be married.
    One needed a special license to marry outside of one’s parish or the parish of the spouse. of course, those who attended Parliament or the law courts usually lived in the parish of St. George.
    There were those who wanted a special license for the snaob appeal or to marry at some other church, or at a time other than between 8 and noon.

    Reply
  20. The common license had to be from a bishop of the parish in which one of the couple lived.They had to name the church in that parish in which they planned to be married.
    One needed a special license to marry outside of one’s parish or the parish of the spouse. of course, those who attended Parliament or the law courts usually lived in the parish of St. George.
    There were those who wanted a special license for the snaob appeal or to marry at some other church, or at a time other than between 8 and noon.

    Reply
  21. Thank you so much for all the information. I believe the most romantic may be Anne marrying a man 50 years her senior and it was a love match. What a lovely thought. And we know it was a love match because she spruced him up and he allowed it. Just think, if it has been a different time, she could have gotten him to wear gold chains and he could have gotten a red convertible.

    Reply
  22. Thank you so much for all the information. I believe the most romantic may be Anne marrying a man 50 years her senior and it was a love match. What a lovely thought. And we know it was a love match because she spruced him up and he allowed it. Just think, if it has been a different time, she could have gotten him to wear gold chains and he could have gotten a red convertible.

    Reply
  23. Thank you so much for all the information. I believe the most romantic may be Anne marrying a man 50 years her senior and it was a love match. What a lovely thought. And we know it was a love match because she spruced him up and he allowed it. Just think, if it has been a different time, she could have gotten him to wear gold chains and he could have gotten a red convertible.

    Reply
  24. Thank you so much for all the information. I believe the most romantic may be Anne marrying a man 50 years her senior and it was a love match. What a lovely thought. And we know it was a love match because she spruced him up and he allowed it. Just think, if it has been a different time, she could have gotten him to wear gold chains and he could have gotten a red convertible.

    Reply
  25. Thank you so much for all the information. I believe the most romantic may be Anne marrying a man 50 years her senior and it was a love match. What a lovely thought. And we know it was a love match because she spruced him up and he allowed it. Just think, if it has been a different time, she could have gotten him to wear gold chains and he could have gotten a red convertible.

    Reply
  26. “He was 29, she was 21, so rather more normal, except she died the next year. Childbirth? He never remarried.”
    Oh, there’re so many stories like that in the past. ๐Ÿ™
    Maybe the kind of thing not to think about when reading historical romance!

    Reply
  27. “He was 29, she was 21, so rather more normal, except she died the next year. Childbirth? He never remarried.”
    Oh, there’re so many stories like that in the past. ๐Ÿ™
    Maybe the kind of thing not to think about when reading historical romance!

    Reply
  28. “He was 29, she was 21, so rather more normal, except she died the next year. Childbirth? He never remarried.”
    Oh, there’re so many stories like that in the past. ๐Ÿ™
    Maybe the kind of thing not to think about when reading historical romance!

    Reply
  29. “He was 29, she was 21, so rather more normal, except she died the next year. Childbirth? He never remarried.”
    Oh, there’re so many stories like that in the past. ๐Ÿ™
    Maybe the kind of thing not to think about when reading historical romance!

    Reply
  30. “He was 29, she was 21, so rather more normal, except she died the next year. Childbirth? He never remarried.”
    Oh, there’re so many stories like that in the past. ๐Ÿ™
    Maybe the kind of thing not to think about when reading historical romance!

    Reply
  31. I prefer the village weddings when they occur in novels, but weddings are wonderful however they take place. Common license was new to me. Please clarify, Jo. Special license could be issued ONLY by the Archbishop of Canterbury?

    Reply
  32. I prefer the village weddings when they occur in novels, but weddings are wonderful however they take place. Common license was new to me. Please clarify, Jo. Special license could be issued ONLY by the Archbishop of Canterbury?

    Reply
  33. I prefer the village weddings when they occur in novels, but weddings are wonderful however they take place. Common license was new to me. Please clarify, Jo. Special license could be issued ONLY by the Archbishop of Canterbury?

    Reply
  34. I prefer the village weddings when they occur in novels, but weddings are wonderful however they take place. Common license was new to me. Please clarify, Jo. Special license could be issued ONLY by the Archbishop of Canterbury?

    Reply
  35. I prefer the village weddings when they occur in novels, but weddings are wonderful however they take place. Common license was new to me. Please clarify, Jo. Special license could be issued ONLY by the Archbishop of Canterbury?

    Reply
  36. Jo–
    While I’ve heard of common licenses and know they were granted by bishops, but I don’t know any other details. Do you know what the fee was? Was there a required delay, such as the 3 weeks that would have been required by using banns? I presume they couldn’t marry immediately because then it would be much the same as a special license.
    Details, details!!! Catnip for Regency people. *G*

    Reply
  37. Jo–
    While I’ve heard of common licenses and know they were granted by bishops, but I don’t know any other details. Do you know what the fee was? Was there a required delay, such as the 3 weeks that would have been required by using banns? I presume they couldn’t marry immediately because then it would be much the same as a special license.
    Details, details!!! Catnip for Regency people. *G*

    Reply
  38. Jo–
    While I’ve heard of common licenses and know they were granted by bishops, but I don’t know any other details. Do you know what the fee was? Was there a required delay, such as the 3 weeks that would have been required by using banns? I presume they couldn’t marry immediately because then it would be much the same as a special license.
    Details, details!!! Catnip for Regency people. *G*

    Reply
  39. Jo–
    While I’ve heard of common licenses and know they were granted by bishops, but I don’t know any other details. Do you know what the fee was? Was there a required delay, such as the 3 weeks that would have been required by using banns? I presume they couldn’t marry immediately because then it would be much the same as a special license.
    Details, details!!! Catnip for Regency people. *G*

    Reply
  40. Jo–
    While I’ve heard of common licenses and know they were granted by bishops, but I don’t know any other details. Do you know what the fee was? Was there a required delay, such as the 3 weeks that would have been required by using banns? I presume they couldn’t marry immediately because then it would be much the same as a special license.
    Details, details!!! Catnip for Regency people. *G*

    Reply
  41. Sonya, we have to remember that many women gave birth without dying. There were many more untimely deaths back then, and statistics seem to show that women had a greater chance of dying in an accident or by general illness than in childbirth, though it certainly was a risky time.
    Of course men had many causes of untimely death, too. Illness, more “industrial accidents, general violence and, of course, war.

    Reply
  42. Sonya, we have to remember that many women gave birth without dying. There were many more untimely deaths back then, and statistics seem to show that women had a greater chance of dying in an accident or by general illness than in childbirth, though it certainly was a risky time.
    Of course men had many causes of untimely death, too. Illness, more “industrial accidents, general violence and, of course, war.

    Reply
  43. Sonya, we have to remember that many women gave birth without dying. There were many more untimely deaths back then, and statistics seem to show that women had a greater chance of dying in an accident or by general illness than in childbirth, though it certainly was a risky time.
    Of course men had many causes of untimely death, too. Illness, more “industrial accidents, general violence and, of course, war.

    Reply
  44. Sonya, we have to remember that many women gave birth without dying. There were many more untimely deaths back then, and statistics seem to show that women had a greater chance of dying in an accident or by general illness than in childbirth, though it certainly was a risky time.
    Of course men had many causes of untimely death, too. Illness, more “industrial accidents, general violence and, of course, war.

    Reply
  45. Sonya, we have to remember that many women gave birth without dying. There were many more untimely deaths back then, and statistics seem to show that women had a greater chance of dying in an accident or by general illness than in childbirth, though it certainly was a risky time.
    Of course men had many causes of untimely death, too. Illness, more “industrial accidents, general violence and, of course, war.

    Reply
  46. Yes, Carol, a special licence was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it didn’t have to be him personally. His officials could do it, especially from the office in London.
    Jo

    Reply
  47. Yes, Carol, a special licence was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it didn’t have to be him personally. His officials could do it, especially from the office in London.
    Jo

    Reply
  48. Yes, Carol, a special licence was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it didn’t have to be him personally. His officials could do it, especially from the office in London.
    Jo

    Reply
  49. Yes, Carol, a special licence was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it didn’t have to be him personally. His officials could do it, especially from the office in London.
    Jo

    Reply
  50. Yes, Carol, a special licence was issued by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it didn’t have to be him personally. His officials could do it, especially from the office in London.
    Jo

    Reply
  51. Not sure of the fee, Mary Jo, but I’d guess something in the range of 10 shillings. A meaningful amount for most people, but not a huge deterrent.
    I don’t believe there was a waiting time because they would be marrying in the parish of one or the others, openly in the community. I don’t think the 3 weeks of banns was a delaying tactic so much as making sure that anyone interested was likely to hear the announcement.
    The special licence allowed much more variation in place and time, including the ceremony being away from their normal place of living and in private.

    Reply
  52. Not sure of the fee, Mary Jo, but I’d guess something in the range of 10 shillings. A meaningful amount for most people, but not a huge deterrent.
    I don’t believe there was a waiting time because they would be marrying in the parish of one or the others, openly in the community. I don’t think the 3 weeks of banns was a delaying tactic so much as making sure that anyone interested was likely to hear the announcement.
    The special licence allowed much more variation in place and time, including the ceremony being away from their normal place of living and in private.

    Reply
  53. Not sure of the fee, Mary Jo, but I’d guess something in the range of 10 shillings. A meaningful amount for most people, but not a huge deterrent.
    I don’t believe there was a waiting time because they would be marrying in the parish of one or the others, openly in the community. I don’t think the 3 weeks of banns was a delaying tactic so much as making sure that anyone interested was likely to hear the announcement.
    The special licence allowed much more variation in place and time, including the ceremony being away from their normal place of living and in private.

    Reply
  54. Not sure of the fee, Mary Jo, but I’d guess something in the range of 10 shillings. A meaningful amount for most people, but not a huge deterrent.
    I don’t believe there was a waiting time because they would be marrying in the parish of one or the others, openly in the community. I don’t think the 3 weeks of banns was a delaying tactic so much as making sure that anyone interested was likely to hear the announcement.
    The special licence allowed much more variation in place and time, including the ceremony being away from their normal place of living and in private.

    Reply
  55. Not sure of the fee, Mary Jo, but I’d guess something in the range of 10 shillings. A meaningful amount for most people, but not a huge deterrent.
    I don’t believe there was a waiting time because they would be marrying in the parish of one or the others, openly in the community. I don’t think the 3 weeks of banns was a delaying tactic so much as making sure that anyone interested was likely to hear the announcement.
    The special licence allowed much more variation in place and time, including the ceremony being away from their normal place of living and in private.

    Reply
  56. Thanks a lot for this issue. Now I know what a Special Licence was! After reading so many novels with special licences and Gretna Green’s marriages, I think a plain common wedding in the parish of one of the characters would be welcomed.

    Reply
  57. Thanks a lot for this issue. Now I know what a Special Licence was! After reading so many novels with special licences and Gretna Green’s marriages, I think a plain common wedding in the parish of one of the characters would be welcomed.

    Reply
  58. Thanks a lot for this issue. Now I know what a Special Licence was! After reading so many novels with special licences and Gretna Green’s marriages, I think a plain common wedding in the parish of one of the characters would be welcomed.

    Reply
  59. Thanks a lot for this issue. Now I know what a Special Licence was! After reading so many novels with special licences and Gretna Green’s marriages, I think a plain common wedding in the parish of one of the characters would be welcomed.

    Reply
  60. Thanks a lot for this issue. Now I know what a Special Licence was! After reading so many novels with special licences and Gretna Green’s marriages, I think a plain common wedding in the parish of one of the characters would be welcomed.

    Reply
  61. Jo, I love everything you write!!
    I love weddings that are mysterious and romantic. Rushed for a particular situation, but me, as the reader, secretly hoping for a turn of events that will blow me away!!

    Reply
  62. Jo, I love everything you write!!
    I love weddings that are mysterious and romantic. Rushed for a particular situation, but me, as the reader, secretly hoping for a turn of events that will blow me away!!

    Reply
  63. Jo, I love everything you write!!
    I love weddings that are mysterious and romantic. Rushed for a particular situation, but me, as the reader, secretly hoping for a turn of events that will blow me away!!

    Reply
  64. Jo, I love everything you write!!
    I love weddings that are mysterious and romantic. Rushed for a particular situation, but me, as the reader, secretly hoping for a turn of events that will blow me away!!

    Reply
  65. Jo, I love everything you write!!
    I love weddings that are mysterious and romantic. Rushed for a particular situation, but me, as the reader, secretly hoping for a turn of events that will blow me away!!

    Reply

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