The scene is a common one in Regency romance: the young lovers, denied permission to marry, flee to
I don't know how many of these stories I read before I asked why did they go all the way to
The answer lies in the Marriage Act of 1753, also called the Hardwicke Act. This law invalidated marriages if either or both of the parties involved were under twenty-one and did not have the consent of the parents or guardians.
The law’s purpose was to prevent scoundrels from eloping with heiresses for their money. Did it work? To some extent. But it also created a flourishing trade in quick Scottish marriages because the Hardwicke Act was law only in
People over twenty-one also eloped. The Hardwicke Act required the calling of the banns for three successive weeks before a marriage could take place, as well as a formal ceremony in a church. Alternatively, one could purchase a special license from the Archbishop of Canterbury in
But a trip to
The destination of choice for many eloping couples was Gretna Green, in Dumfries and
More on these towns in my next post.
Thank you all,