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Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

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Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby JennyLesley » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:23 pm

Does anyone know what documentation a couple would need to get married in 1888? I have a copy of the marriage cert and my great grandmother allegedly was born in 1868 and her maiden name was Dora Steward, her father's name is given as Charles Steward. Trouble is, I've never been able to find her under that name or any variant I can think of, not in the birth records nor in censuses. There is an old family story that my great grandfather, Albert Brown, "kidnapped" her from a convent. I'm starting to wonder if this were true and whether they lied about her age (although I've looked for Dora Stewards much younger and still not found her) or her father's name..

Its all very frustrating - especially as I've discovered she was painted by a portrait painter on holiday in Eastbourne in 1901 and that portrait is in the Tate! Does anyone have any clues on where else I can look and any info on what they would have had to produce to the registrar in Eastbourne. I think they weren't living in Eastbourne for long prior to their marriage as their address is a "seaside inn" on the marriage certificate and Albert Brown was born in Kent.

Many thanks if you can help,
Jenny Lesley
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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby paulberyl » Thu Feb 14, 2008 3:43 am

[font="times new roman"][size=3]Hi Jenny,[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3][/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]The truth is that no documentation needed to be supplied for a couple to get married and couples did lie for all sorts of reasons.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3][/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]The ages were provided by the bride and groom, but they did not have to provide proof of this.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]They may have been underage and were marrying without parental consent.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]They may be seeking to avoid social stigma by minimising the gulf of years in an age-gap marriage.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]They may have lied to each other about their ages![/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3][/size][/font]
Marital status at time of marriage also need to be treated with caution. In the 19th century with divorce out of reach to all but the very rich, those willing to commit bigamy to marry someone new sometimes concealed an estranged spouse by claiming to be unmarried or widowed.

Finally a person embarrassed by their illegitimacy might simply invent a father.

If the couple have lied it can prove very difficult to get to the truth. However a bit unusual for a portrait to be painted and to be hanging in the Tate. Have you tried contacting the Tate to see if they can provide any background on the painting which may, or may not, provide some additional clues? Also what maiden name is given on your grandmother's birth certificate, is this also Steward?

Unfortunately if someone wanted to start a new life and invented a new name for this life it can be virtually impossible to trace their previous life. The only thing is never give up - you never know what may come to light.

Paul
[font="times new roman"][size=3][/size][/font]
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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby silvery » Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:20 am

They were living in Eastbourne in 1901 at 14 Lime Tree Terrace.
census reg RG13/883/129/32

Albert Brown 32 general labourer
Dora 33
Leonard 9
Albert 3
Naomi Pretoria 11 mths

all b Eastbourne

Are you sure it is her portrait in the Tate with Albert being just a general labourer? It sounds most unlikely, but anything is possible.

Family stories can get embroidered and mixed up over the years.



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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby silvery » Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:36 am

Naomi Pretoria Brown
born in Eastbourne 1900

June 1900 Eastbourne 2b/83

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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby margaretabram » Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:03 pm

Back to the original question posed of whether you could get married without parental consent. You certainly could as recently as 1911. My husband's grandparents got married in the next area to their own at the register office. I have the original marriage certificate on which they state that they are both 21. In fact the bride was seventeen and the groom was twenty. My mother-in-law followed seven months later. Eight more children followed and they were happily married for 53 years. They must have sneaked off to get married and presented the family with a fait accompli as there were no family witnesses. I would love to have seen the reaction when they announced they were married. Incidentally some of those nine children are still alive and don't seem to know this and I haven't the heart to tell them. Needless to say, they are keen to see my research, so I'll have to let the secret out at some stage.

As far as the Brown family in Eastbourne is concerned, I have had a look too and agree with the contributors' research. Could Dora have worked as a painter's model, or was she so stunning that the artist wanted to paint her. I await for news of the painting. Anyone planning a visit to the Tate?
Mags
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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby cathyhudd » Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:40 pm

Am I right in thinking that until relatively recently you could marry at 12?
Looking for information about:- Harpers of Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Buckinghamshire. Whaymans and Goodings of Suffolk and Essex. Jacques of Leicestershire. Hudds, Pontings and Partridges of Gloucestershire.
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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby paulberyl » Fri Feb 29, 2008 2:36 am

[size=3][font="times new roman"]Before Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1753 there was no lower legal age of marriage, except during the 1650's when it was 16 for men and 14 for women. [/font][/size]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]In 1753 it was fixed at 14 for men and 12 for women and remained at that until the Age of Marriage Act 1929 when it was raised to 16 for both. (Subject to parent’s permission if the parties were under 21 unless the party was a widow/widower) [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Current legislation allows for couples over 18 years old to marry (16 years old with parental consent)[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3] [/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Up until 1951 in Northern Ireland boys aged over 14 years and girls over 12 years old could marry again with parental consent if under 21. Current limits are 18, or 17 with parents permission.[/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3][/size][/font]
[font="times new roman"][size=3]Paul[/size][/font]
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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby Guy » Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:40 am

The situation was not as clear cut as Paul implies. ;)

Age for marriage.
Until 1929 (England, Wales & Scotland 1975 Republic of Ireland) Ecclesiastical Law and Civil Law were at odds over the age of consent.
Ecclesiastical law took the view that a person was old enough to marry if they understood the implications which seems to be around 7 years old but lower cases have been recorded. Civil law varied between 14 for boys 12 for girls to 16 for both.

ConsentThe Marriage Act of 1753 (Lord Hardwicks) required consent from parents for minors to marry, however that clause was repealed and replaced by the 1823 Act which directed that such consent be obtained but any marriage without consent was legal and neither void nor voidable.
see - http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~framland/acts/actind.htm

A further complication forbade apprentices to marriage (without consent of their master) This effectively blocked marraige for them until about 21.CheersGuy
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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby paulberyl » Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:40 am

Hi Guy,

I accept that the position on marriage can be very complicated. You mention appentices could not marry, without permission, until completion of their appenticeship; another problem are soldiers in the 19th century. Technically soldiers could not get married without their commanding officer's permission. but as marriages were restricted to approximately six men per company of 100 many soldiers married without pemission. Consequently whilst the marriage was legally valid it was not recognised by the army. However if permission was subsquently granted; to gain recognition by the army the parties could go through a second marriage.

Any way my main query. You say that under Ecclesiastical law parties could marry from around 7 years old. My understanding was that Ecclesiastical law (both Anglican and Catholic) distinguished between betrothal, marriage and consummation. Betrothal was recognised from age 7 but marriage not until 12 years old for girls and 14 for boys (Source: [color=#000000][size=2]John Witte, [/size] [/color][size=2][i]From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religion, and Law in the Western Tradition, [/i]p159). Is this incorrect?[/size]

[size=2]Paul[/size]
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RE: Could you lie to get married without parental consent in 1888?

Postby Guy » Sat Apr 19, 2008 6:13 am

Unfortunately no, having said that obviously some of the youngest children were simply betrothed, others however, were actually married with the marriages consummated.

I would add the fortunately the evidence does suggest that young marriages were few and far between and tended to be just under the civil law limits but the possibility must be faced when researching, that under age marriages did occur.
Cheers
Guy
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