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FredP
18-11-2004, 4:16 PM
Can someone tell me please when the minimum age at which one could be married was first regulated by parliament? Also whether, before that, the church imposed any such restriction?

I ask because an ancestress of mine, married 5th April 1714, (the husband's 23rd birthday!), appears to have been born 22nd Sep 1703 and christened 3rd Oct 1703.



Records in the Church Register before this date seem not as full as later, so this could of course be a relative (perhaps a niece), but I have found no further reference to any other person with the same name at any later date, and the mentions of a precise location within a relatively small community points to this being a real possibility.

Peter Goodey
18-11-2004, 5:01 PM
I think you'll find the minimum age at that time was 12 for a girl. So yours doesn't quite get in;) . It would be pretty unusual though for a 12 year old to get married. She surely wasn't in the club at that age??? I think I'd investigate the niece angle if I were you.

Jo Simpsons
18-11-2004, 5:01 PM
I believe it was 12 for girls and 14 for boys with parents permission. I think it was that until the 1920's

:eek:
Jo

Diane Grant-Salmon
18-11-2004, 5:26 PM
Thankyou so much for this information, but I don't know whether to laugh or cry ...... probably the latter!

A couple of times when I've been looking for a marriage of one of my female Ancestors, I've dismissed entries as possibly a match, owing to the age of the bride being 13. |blush|

Jo Simpsons
18-11-2004, 5:37 PM
Shocking isn't it really :eek: Mind I suppose the life span wasn't as great as ours generally is, so they may not have had to put up with each other too long! :)
Jo

Peter Goodey
18-11-2004, 10:57 PM
But we're talking about 1714. If the age of puberty is currently decreasing, I would hazard a guess that 300 years ago a twelve year old would almost certainly not be of child bearing age.

hpjrt
19-11-2004, 12:37 AM
A couple of things here ...

Just because the baptism was in 1703, one can't necessarily assume that the person being baptised was a newborn. There are countless examples of children and adults being baptised LONG after birth. I have one in my family tree where a brother and sister were baptised at the same time ... but while the sister was presumably a baby, the brother was quite a bit older. It was noted on the register.

Also, while there were minimum ages for marriage ... I've found in my own family lines that, on average, people married around the 18 to 20 years old mark. I actually found this very surprising as I had expected to find a lot of "young" marriages.

I suppose it depended upon what class one's ancestor belonged to ... and mine all seem to be "agricultural labourers" or the like. Perhaps the poorer one was, the older one was when one got married.

Just another perspective ...

Mary

Peter Goodey
19-11-2004, 9:33 AM
I am not disputing that it is POSSIBLE! See the birth of King Henry VII. However the question was about MARRIAGE and some figures which I have seen but can't lay my hands on suggest (so far as possible with limited data) that such a marriage would have been extremely rare - and in this case illegal.

There are also social factors to consider. What was their social class? Rural or urban? Only the OP can tell us this plus of course whether there actually was a bun in the oven.

Guy Etchells
19-11-2004, 11:27 AM
In 1714 she would have been old enough to be married according to both church and civil law, however the marriage could not legally have been consumated until she reached the age of consent of 16.

Under church law a child could have married as soon as they were old enough to understand the implications of their action, this was normally assumed to be around seven years old.
In 1929 the lower age for marriage was fixed at 16 in England & Wales.
Cheers
Guy

FredP
19-11-2004, 11:14 PM
Thank you all for a most interesting collection of replies to my posting.

In this case (as I stated) the Church Register gives the date of birth as well as the christening as 1703.

Also, the first child was born 18 months after the marriage.

As a matter of interest, there were two further children, in 1718 and 1721, and the mother died in 1728.

The bride's father was described as 'collier' - the bridegroom's father as 'labourer'. The bridegroom was later described as 'felo, the first child was born 18 months after the marriage.

As a matter of interest, there were two further children, in 1718 and 1721, and the mother died in 1728.

The bride's father was described as 'collier' - the bridegroom's father as 'labourer'. The bridegroom was later described as 'feltmaker', and later still as 'hatter'.

FredP.

Martha
21-11-2004, 10:46 PM
What an interesting thread, however, I am more confused than ever now.
When the age on a marriage says full, does that mean they were simply over 12 or 14? I had assumed it meant the full age of consent and thought that was 21.
Also, would they have had to have both parents permission?
I was 17 when married, the minumum age is 16, but as I was under 18 the age of consent I had to have my parents permission, would this have been the same in the 18th 19th century?
Martha

Peter Goodey
21-11-2004, 11:48 PM
Full age meant 21 or over (if it meant over the minimum age for marriage, you'd never see any age except 'Full':D )

Someone who was under 21 but widowed didn't need anyone's permission!

Guy Etchells
22-11-2004, 1:12 AM
Full age means they have reached the age of majority i.e. they have become an adult. This used to be 21 but is now 18.

Age of consent can be confusing as there are three possible terms that were contracted to age of consent.
1, Age of consent for matrimonial contracts, this was the term for consent by the parties of the marriage (the bride and groom) there was no fixed age simply the age the person could give rational consent i.e. understand what was going on.
2, Age of consent to sexual intercourse, this was set by civmessage=Full age means they have reached the age of majority i.e. they have become an adult. This used to be 21 but is now 18.

Age of consent can be confusing as there are three possible terms that were contracted to age of consent.
1, Age of consent for matrimonial contracts, this was the term for consent by the parties of the marriage (the bride and groom) there was no fixed age simply the age the person could give rational consent i.e. understand what was going on.
2, Age of consent to sexual intercourse, this was set by civil law at 16
3, Parental consent required between 1753 & 1823 for marriage of an infant i.e. a person younger than 21 unless a widow or widower. Outside this period a marriage of an infant without parental consent was legal butwanting and any property of the underaged party did not pass to the elder party.
Cheers
Guy

Cornish Maid
11-12-2004, 8:48 PM
Probably too early for this particular case, but in mediaeval times it was quite usual for "marriages" to take place very young indeed, sometimes practically newborn children were betrothed. A Betrothal was a legal form of marriage, followed by a full Church marriage when both children were deemed to be of a suitable age - this suitable age was decided by the parents, or other interested parties.


Needless to say, Land or Property was always involved in these betrothals, and applied mostly to the rich: however, even a humble tenant farmer might be anxious to ally his tenancy with that of another family in order to increase his holding.

I dont find it impossible that an eleven year old girl got married, she may have not been aware of her exact age. And, don't forget, extreme poverty in a large family meant that marriage was an attractive option, probably the best that parents could do for their daughters to ensure that they would at least be fed!

AnnB
26-02-2005, 3:23 PM
I thought the people who had contributed to this thread might be interested in this entry I have just found whilst transcribing the births, marriages and deaths from early copies of The North Devon Journal (although why it is in a Devon paper, I do not know, unless one of the families were local) -

22.10.1824 (date of paper) At Corsham, Wilts., George Smith, aged 15 to Honour Sumbler, aged 13 years and 9 months.

I thought I would do a bit of sleuthing, but all I have come up with is that the marriage is recorded in the IGI (as an extracted entry) with the bride's name given as Sumner. Unfortunately, with a married name of Smith, I have abandoned the idea of looking too hard for the couple, but if there is anyone out there who recognises the names....... ;)

Best wishes
Ann