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  1. #1
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    Default marriage witness minimum age ?

    I seem to have a 14-year old girl acting as witness at her mother's second marriage. Is that at all unusual ? This was in 1826. I guess if at least one witness had to be a family member she might have been the only one available ?

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    As far as I'm aware there was no minimum age. So long as the officiating minister was satisfied a witnesses understood the role and knew the person.

    See here:
    http://www.
    dixons.clara.co.uk/Certificates/marriages.htm#COL10
    Alma

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    There is no minimum age - and there is no requirement that they know the people getting married. Witnesses could be strangers off the street, which does occasionally happen. In older church weddings, one of the witnesses is often the parish clerk or churchwarden and you see their name on numerous weddings in the register.

    The only requirement is that there is at least two (can be more) and that they are old enough to understand what they are witnessing, and to be able to give evidence of it in the future if required.

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    The current regulations simply say
    "Two or more witnesses must be present at the marriage. There is no restriction on the number of witnesses nor is there an age limit but they must be able to understand what is taking place and testify if necessary as to what they have seen and heard."

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    James Barclay, the Curate of Edmonton, Middlesex in his 1774 "A complete and universal Dictionary on a new plan: including not only I. A full explanation of difficult words and technical terms and II. ..."

    under the heading AGE has -

    "In law a man at 12 years of age ought to take the oath of allegiance to the king in a leet; at fourteeen, which is his age of discretion, he may marry, choose his guardian and claim his land held in socage. His full age is twenty one, in man or woman. A woman is dowable at nine years of age, may marry at twelve, and at fourten choose her guardian. At fourteen a man may dispose of his personal estate by will, but not of lands; and at this a man or woman is capable of being a witness."

    He seems to have lifted this verbatim from John Merchant's 1760 Dictionary which in turn is based on Samuel Johnson's 1755 Dictionary - which did not refer to witness age.
    "dyfal donc a dyr y garreg"

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    At fourteen a man may dispose of his personal estate by will, but not of lands; and at this a man or woman is capable of being a witness.
    That appears to be referring to the act of witnessing a will which is a different kettle of fish. Only adults can witness a will.

    Whatever it refers to, there is no age limit for a marriage witness.

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