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The impact of the Clandestine Marriages Act: three case-studies in conformity

By Rebecca Probert and Liam D'Arcy Brown


This article examines the extent of compliance with the Clandestine Marriages Act 1753 through three parish studies. It demonstrates that the vast majority of the sample cohort of parents whose children were baptized in church, and indeed of couples living together, had married in church as required by the 1753 Act, and shows how the proportion of marriages traced rises as more information about the parties becomes available. Through a study of settlement examinations, the article posits an explanation of why some marriages have not been traced, and argues that researchers should be cautious in inferring non-compliance from the absence of a record in a specific parish. It is also argued that the reason for such high rates of compliance has less to do with the power of statute and more to do with the fact that the 1753 Act was not such a radical break with the past as has been assumed

Topics: HQ, KD
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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