Regency Marriage ~ The Legalities

Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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A clergyman has always been required for legal marriage in England except for the time during the Commonwealth ( Cromwell) .A spousal where they just said vows without a clergyman was half a marriage which deprived the wife of widow’s rights and made the legitimacy of the children questionable. The requirement for a clergyman was what made the Fleet weddings so popular.That is why the Hardwicke act made spousals invalid and required a church wedding with witnesses and a record of the wedding in the register after banns had been read.
Rebecca Probert marriage law and practice in the long 18th century.



I wanted to ask you a question if you will allow it.
Do you know if a document written by the guardians/parents of a lady/gent containing the wish that they married, was legal?
Like Lady Catherine deBourgh in P&P, says she had a agreement with her sister Lady Anne Darcy but then a written.
That is a answer I can’t find anywhere. I read that if the groom or bride said ‘no’, the clergyman couldn’t wed them. That made me wonder if a forced or unwanted marriage couldn’t go forth if so spoken, with loss of reputation of course.


Trudie 🙂


Oh my goodness. It really does seem like a business transaction, no wonder love didn’t factor into marriage for a while! The last part reminds me of a kind of prenup. Thanks for the interesting and fun facts Sharon!


this was really interesting

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