Nancy Mayer explains Regency Marriage Laws and How to Dissolve a Regency Marriage.

This is an excerpt from an article by Nancy Mayer. You can read the entirety of it on her website The Regency Researcher. As many of you know, I’m her web mistress.

After March 25, 1754, when the Hardwicke Act for the Prevention of Clandestine Marriages went into effect, couples marrying in England had to follow certain rules in order to be legally married.  Before that time, all that was needed was that they say their vows before  a clergyman of the Church of England.  The clergyman need not even be in charge of a parish as long as he had been ordained.  Many were to be found in the vicinity of Fleet prison where people were imprisoned for debt. Under these circumstances, it was easy for people to keep the marriages secret. Though secret marriages might be beloved of novelists, they were very much disliked by courts and genealogists. The informal manner of weddings made it easier for bigamists.

The new act was meant to make marriages more public and regular.  Though people had always been encouraged to have the banns called, it now became a requirement that they do so unless the couple obtained a license from the local bishop or the Archbishop of Canterbury. By 1811 the cost of a special license was £5.  It was mostly used by the aristocracy and men in the public eye. The standard license from a bishop required a bond for £100 to be forfeit if the couple lied about any allegation as well as a slight fee.  This license named the parish in which the wedding would be held.  This license entailed a wait of seven days. The couple still had to marry between the hours of eight and noon.

Wedding Dress from 1818

After the banns were read in the parish church for three successive Sundays, the couple had to be married in that church between the hours of eight in the morning  and noon by an ordained clergyman before two witnesses. Only if both the man and woman were Quakers or Jews were they exempt from this law. All others, even Roman Catholics, had to marry in the parish church of the Church of England unless they had obtained a special license. Even those with a special license had to be married by a man in holy orders.

By law the Roman Catholics were supposed to be married first by an Anglican priest before marrying by their rites, but in practice many married in Catholic rites first. However, the marriage was not valid until and unless they married according to the law by a clergyman of the Church of England.

All  marriages had to be registered in the parish register even if the couple married in a private house by special license.

Read the rest of the article at The Regency Researcher


Lost in the Regency Mail

When I wrote my first book RAKES AND RADISHES, I had to do a great deal of research on the exciting details of British mail delivery. Not only did I need to learn how a person retrieves her mail, but also the timing of communications.  That was years ago, and, like everything I learn, I quickly forgot it. Now I’m storing my research on my shiny blog in the server sky! So the information is organized and available anytime I may need it (and illustrated with lots of pretty pictures.)

From The picture of London, for 1803: being a correct guide to all the curiosities, amusements, exhibitions, public establishments, and remarkable objects, in and near London; with a collection of appropriate tables. For the use of strangers, foreigners, and all persons who are not intimately acquainted with British metropolis, by John Feltham 

Continue reading “Lost in the Regency Mail”

What was Trending in the Winter of 1824

from The Ladies’ Monthly Museum, Volume 21

Domestic News

The high winds, at the close of last month, were productive of the most disastrous consequences at home. At Deal, Brighton, Shoreham, Seaford, Southampton, Weymouth, Lyme, Plymouth, and other places on the southern coast, much damage has been done, both by sea and land. At Dorchester, houses were unroofed and chimneys blown down, by the fury of the gale. The Rev. H. J. Richman and his wife were killed, in bed, by the fall of a stack of chimneys. On the road between Salisbury and Weymouth, the Regulator Exeter coach was. twice overset, by the force of the wind. In various parts of the country, the effects of the storm have been, more or less, felt. It extended to Wales and Scotland. At Landrillo bay, a vessel was wrecked, and two of the crew drowned.

The execution of Mr. Fauntleroy took place on the day appointed, the 30th alt., when a vast concourse of people assembled in the street and houses of the Old Bailey, to view his exit. Measures had been adopted to obviate the danger, which the pressure of such a crowd might have occasioned; and, fortunately, no accident of consequence happened. The unhappy gentleman behaved with that decency and propriety which has characterized his conduct, ever since his apprehension for the offence for which he suffered. It is remarkable, that a person in a similar rank of life with Mr. Fauntleroy, has, since his execution, been taken into custody, on a charge of forgery. This person is a Mr. Savery, son of a banker at Bristol, and himself carrying on business in that city, as a sugar-baker, in partnership with another gentleman. The crime imputed to him is, forging bills with fictitious addresses; by means of which he had, for some time past, been raising money, to a large amount. Alarmed at the fate of Mr. Fauntleroy, he attempted to make his escape to America; but being followed by his partner, he was taken at Cowes, on board the vessel in which he had engaged a passage.

A man named Ledbitter, landlord of the Dolphin Tavern, Ludgate Hill, was tried on the 4th inst. at the Old Bailey, on the charge of taking a reward for the returning of stolen property. The culprit, on the present occasion, was found guilty; but recommended, by the jury, to mercy, on the score of his previous good character.

A girl of 18, living in service;, near Hungerford, jumped into a well, fifty yards deep, in a fit of temporary insanity, arising from the dread of punishment for some domestic offence.

A young lady was killed at Knightsbridge, by a fall from a one-horse chaise, owing to the horse taking fright.

Mrs. Fermon, a very aged lady, residing in Gravel-lane, being left alone reading by the fire-side, was soon after found enveloped in flames. She was taken to Guy’s Hospital, where she expired in a few hours.

An action has been brought by Miss Wharton, of Warborough, in Oxfordshire, against Mr. Lewis, a Lieutenant in the East India Company’s service, for a breach of promise of marriage. The plaintiff obtained a verdict, with damages.

On the 21st occurred the interesting trial between Miss Maria Foote and Joseph Hayne, esq. on a prosecution against the latter for a breach of a matrimonial engagement. The damages were laid at ,£10,000; but the Jury gave the lady, with their verdict in her favour, the sum of £3000, as a compensation for her disappointment.

Epitome of Public Affairs, for December 1824. 

Few occurrences have been announced during the past month which are likely to have any important influence on the state of affairs, either at home or abroad

The city of Petersburg has been visited by a terrible calamity. On the 19th alt. in consequence of a westerly wind, the waves of the Baltic, forced back into the channel of the river Neva, on the banks of which the place is built, and laid it almost entirely under water, At two o’clock the current flowed to the height of six or seven feet above the pavements, in every part of the city, which stands almost on one level. A multitude of houses, sentry-boxes, &c. were swept away, and more than 8000 persons are said to have perished: more recent accounts state the number of lives lost to have been 3,000. The violence of the torrent washed the corpses out of the graves. At Cronstadt, the port of Petersburgh, a ship of 100 guns was floated into the great square, where it remained when the water subsided; and two steam-boats were lying in the middle of the town. The wind, changing after two o’clock, the water rapidly subsided, and by the evening the river had retreated within its banks. The loss of property which has occurred, is immense; and the destruction of provisions has been such as to cause apprehensions of famine. The Exchange has been fitted up to receive some of the houseless sufferers.

Continue reading “What was Trending in the Winter of 1824”

Hot Regency Fashion Trends for Winter 1816

From  Repository of Arts, Literature, Fashions,  by Rudolph Ackermann, Frederic Shober. 1816

Promenade dress. A high dress of cambric muslin trimmed at the bottom with a single flounce of work. The body, which is composed entirely of work, fits the shape without any fullness. A plain long sleeve, finished by a triple fall of narrow lace. Over this dress is worn the Angouleme pelisse, composed of crimson velvet, lined with white sarsnet, and trimmed with a single welt of crimson satin, a shade lighter than the pelisse. The body is made exactly to the shape; the back is of course a moderate breadth, and without fullness; for the form of the front we refer our readers to our print; it is confined at the waist, which is very short, by a narrow velvet band, edged to correspond. A small collar, of a novel and pretty shape, stands up and supports a rich lace ruff, which is worn open in front of the throat. The sleeve has very little fullness, and that little is confined at the wrist by three narrow bands of puckered satin. Bonnet a la Rouale, composed of white satin, very tastefully intermixed with a large bunch of fancy flowers, and tied under the chin by a white satin ribbon, which is brought in a bow to the left side ; a full quilling of tulle finishes the front. Black silk ridicule, exquisitely worked in imitation of the ends of an India shawl, and trimmed with black silk fringe. White kid gloves, and black walking shoes.

Continue reading “Hot Regency Fashion Trends for Winter 1816”