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Road to DivorceEngland 1530-1987$
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Lawrence Stone

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198226512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198226512.001.0001

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Clandestine Marriage

Clandestine Marriage

Chapter:
(p.96) IV Clandestine Marriage
Source:
Road to Divorce
Author(s):

Lawrence Stone

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198226512.003.0004

This chapter discusses clandestine marriage: a legally binding marriage, but one conducted in a manner which broke canon law. It was binding since it was conducted by a clergyman, following the ritual prescribed by the Book of Common Prayer. But it could be irregular in a number of ways, the primary cause being that it was done in secret rather than in public. The second section examines the advantages which increased the demand for clandestine marriage, the primary one being secrecy. A key group who catered to such demand was surrogates authorised to issue marriage licenses, explained in the third section. The fourth section looks at the parliamentary legislation between 1666 and 1718, where more than ten bills were introduced in order to stop the clandestine marriage business. The fifth section examines Fleet marriages between 1696 and 1753. The sixth section explores the demands for reform.

Keywords:   Fleet marriage, laity, clergy, clandestine marriage, parliamentary legislation, secrecy, surrogates, secret marriage

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