Irregular Marriages

Clandestine marriages, which avoided the need for banns or licenses, took place all over Britain. The Fleet prison in London, a debtor's prison claiming exemption from ecclesiastical law, was a favourite location, where couples seeking a 'quickie' wedding could team up with renegade priests looking for cash. Some priests' registers are at The National Archives in class RG7 and have been partly transcribed by Herber. Some other irregular London marriages appear in Benton's work. After Hardwicke's Marriage Act, such activities were stopped in England, but not Scotland. Many couples eloped to marriage houses just north of the border, of which Gretna Green is the best known.

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