Friday, December 21, 2007

A Blast From The Past

Being Married in London during the Year 1700
or the
Single Life is for Me.

If you are a high-born lady wishing to marry your stable boy, an uncle wishing to marry his niece, or a young couple wanting to marry without consent, you would go to the alleyways known as the Rules of the Fleet near Fleet Bridge, not far from the river Thames. All types of "plyers" would encourage you to come into their "marriage house" for the ceremony. Most of the clienteles were craftsmen, innkeepers and the lower classes.

One-ninth of England’s population lived in London during 1700.

Weddings were legal only between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and noon.

A contract for marriage was official when the man provided the woman with a ring or presented her with half of a coin.

Males over the age of 14 and females over the age of 12 could marry with the consent of their guardian. Both sexes could marry without consent at the age of 21.

A single woman had many of the same rights of a man. She could own property, leave a will, sue or be sued, but once married, her husband own her lock, stock and barrel. Should she commit adultery, her husband could sue the man for trespassing on his "property."

Popular sex manuals of the time were Aristotle’s Masterpiece and Aretine’s Postures. The man’s sexual organ was at times referred to as his "yard." (Funny! In his dreams!) A midwifery book by a Mrs. Jane Sharp claimed the wife would not conceive if there was "no desire nor delight . . ."

A 5 shilling tax was paid on licenses and certificates of marriage. Thus, the reason cheaper marriage houses married 1/3 of the London population.

A Fleet marriage to a stranger help legitimized a child and prevented the woman from being publicly whipped.

Neither a license nor posting of Banns was required in a Fleet marriage.

If a woman got heavily into debt, she could marry a prisoner and the debt would be considered cleared. (You can’t arrest the husband for the debt when he’s already in prison, duh!)

1 comment:

MaryF said...

Makes you not want to marry if you do have any money (Queen Elizabeth had that right!)

Still, I prefer now, not then, but its so fun to read about. :)

I take it there is a story that is going to be told? I hope...