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Thread: Marriage Vows

  1. #1
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    Default Marriage Vows

    The cost of a marriage Licence, whether it be in pounds, shillings and pence or in my case $$$ [dollars], 2 of the vows are "In sickness and in health" and "Until death us do part".

    These vows we made as a solemn promise in front of family, friends and others who were 'unamed' witnesses to our commitment to each other.

    Many of our ancestors had hard lives - children being buried at a young age and the death of a spouse. There were no income benefits so when a job was lost another one was found. When the rent was due and no money was available, the family did a 'moonlit flit' and found a place to live by their own abillity. The man got a job somewhere, his wife had another child and life went on. They couldn't afford a divorce and the idea of the workhouse was abhorrent. They stayed together until the kids married [or died] and when one partner died, the likelihood was that the surviving partner died in the workhouse, the body was claimed by 'friends' and the location of burial is difficult to find.

    Given our 'easy come, easy go,' attitude of today, the values on 'life and commitment' have disappeared. The 'good old days' are long gone and the folks today couldn't stomache what our ancestors had to put up with.

    This is not a critciism of today's generation but an observation. I truly believe our ancestors, wherever they may be buried, are turning in their graves as to how the lives of their descendants have evolved.


  2. #2
    Knowledgeable and helpful stepives's Avatar
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    Parents abandoned children years ago, partners left each other and set up home with other partners in years gone by whilst still married.
    The workhouses were not all bad, but most were not where anyone would want to end up. But at least it was a roof and food.
    I try not to judge or second guess my forebears lives, as it's easy to compare their 'existence' against the one we all live today. Sometimes they were 'made' to get married, or embarrassed and forced into it because of an impending birth. Some married for neccesity, and not love.........we will never know.
    I had it easier than my parents, and my children have had it easier then me.
    The vows are no different, and nor are the people all those years ago.........they still abandoned each other, as they do today.
    People are kicked out of their houses today for non payment of rent or mortgage....so no difference there.

    When you think in real terms, the cost of a marriage licence then and now.......we have a bargain buy.


  3. The Following User Says Thank You to stepives For This Useful Post:

    Colin Rowledge (06-05-2012)

  4. #3
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    I think we have to be careful here as to what is meant by the thread, as precision is important in family history.

    Are we writing about the cost of marriage or the cost of a marriage licence.
    Here in England and Wales a marriage licence is a document that replaces the reading of Banns to enable a marriage to take place.

    However I believe the thread is really discussing the cost of marriage not the cost of the licence.

    People,s views of the past are often clouded by conditions that developed in a virtual blink of an eye (in historical terms) after the onset of the industrial revolution.
    If however we look at the feudal times our ancestors actually worked less for their lord than they have to spend at work today.
    Values were not judged by money as much of society ran on the barter system.
    Often there would be no rent to pay as housing was supplied with the job as would a percentage of food and drink.
    Yes, some conditions were hard with high infant death, but on the whole in feudal times life for the ordinary person was in many ways better than it is today.
    As we have gained from the past, we owe the future a debt, which we pay by sharing today.

  5. #4
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    2 of the vows are "In sickness and in health" and "Until death us do part".
    Meanwhile, back in the world of reality, in England and Wales the minimum requirement at a civil marriage is a declaration that you are free to marry and a formal statement that you take so-and-so to be your wedded wife/husband. Anything you want to add to that is purely optional.

  6. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Rowledge View Post
    I truly believe our ancestors, wherever they may be buried, are turning in their graves as to how the lives of their descendants have evolved.
    I hope my ancestors would be proud of me, not ashamed.

    Also, knowing what I know about what some of them got up to, I don't think they'd be able to claim the moral high ground. Naming no names, there's one who I think married his teenage stepsister after getting her pregnant. That was before his run-in with the law, which led to him being transported. Another was a bigamist but got away with it. His son got himself infected with a variety of unmentionable diseases while in the army, then got a teenage Catholic girl pregnant and had to marry her. Later they were both charged with child cruelty. Whether you look at nineteenth century newspapers or sixteenth century church court records, there's no shortage of evidence of marital breakdown, adultery and domestic violence.

    Perhaps I'm better off being single, even though it is lonely.

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