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26 Geo. II, cap. xxxiii.
An Ast for the better preventing of Clandestine Marriages.
WHEREAS great mischiefs and inconveniences have
arisen from clandestine marriages; for preventing thereof for the future, be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords spiritual and temporal, and Commons; in this present Parliament afsembled, and by the authority of the fame, That, from and after the twenty-. fifth day of March in the year of our Lord one thous. sand seven hundred and fifty-four, all bands of matri. mony, thall be published in an audible manner in the parish-church, or in some public chapel, in which public chapel banns of matrimony have been usually published, of or belonging to such parish or chapelry, wherein the persons to be married shall dwell, according to the form of words prescribed by the Rubric prefixed to the Office of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer, upon three Sundays preceding the solemnization of marriage, during the time of morning service, or of evening fervice, (if there be no morning service in such church or chapel,) upon any of those Sundays, immediately after the Second Leflon : and whensoever it shall happen that the persons to be married shall dwell in divers parishes or chapelries, the banns shall in like manner be published in the church or chapel belonging to such parish or chapelry wherein each of the said persons shall dwell; and where both or either of the persons to be married shall dwell in any extraparochial place, (having no church or chapel wherein banns have been usually published,) then the banns shall in like manner be published in the parishchurch or chapel belonging to some parish or chapelry adjoining to such extraparochial place : and where bann's shall be published in any church or chapel belonging to any parilh adjoining to such extraparochial place, thParson, Vicar, Minister, or Curate, publisliing faca
fall, in writing under his hand, certify the publicatiori thereof in such manner as if either of the persons to be married dwelt in such adjoining parish; and that all other the rules prescribed by the
said Rubric concerning the publication of banns, and the soleinnization of matrimony, and not hereby altered, shall be duly observed ; and that in all cases where banns shall have been published, the marriage shall be folemnized in one of the parish-churches or chapels where such banns have been published, and in no other place whatsoever.
Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted, That no Parfon, Vicar, Minister, or Curate, shall be obliged to publish the banns of matrimony between any persons whatsoever, unless the persons to be married shall, seven days at the least before the time required for the first publication of such banns respectively, deliver, or cause to be delivered, to such Parson, Vicar, Minister, or Curate, a notice in writing of their true christian and furnames, and of the houle or houses of their respective abodes within such parish, chapelry, or extraparochial place as aforesaid, and of the time during which they have dwelt, inhabited, or lodged in fuch house or houses respectively.
Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That no Parson, Minister, Vicar, or Curate, folemnizing marriages after the twenty-fifth day of March one thousand feven hundred and fifty-four, between persons, both or one of whom shall be under the age of twenty-one years, after banns published, shall be punishable by ecclesiastical censures for folemnizing such marriages without consent of parents or guardians, whose consent is required by law, unless fuch Parson, Minister, Vicar, or Curate, fhall have notice of the diffent of such parents or guardians; and in cafe such parents or guardians, or one of them, shall openly and publicly declare, or cause to be declared, in the church or chapel where the banns shall be 10 published, at the time of luch publication, his, her, or their diflent to such marriage, such publication of banns shall be absolutely void.
And it is hereby further enacted, 'That no licence of marriage shall, from and after the said twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand feven hundred and fifty-four, be granted by any Archbishop, Bishop, or other Ordinary or person having authority to grant such dirences, to folezonize any marriage in any other church or chapel t.'un in the parish-church or public chapel of or belonging to the parish or chapelry within which the usual place of abode of one of the persons to be married fall have been for the space of four weeks immediately before the granting of such licence ; or where both or either of the parties to be married shall dwell in
any extraparochial place, having no church or chapel wherein banns have been usually published, than in the parishchurch or chapel belonging to some parish or chapelry adjoining to such extraparochial place, and in no other place whatsoever.
Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That all parishes where there shall be no parishchurch or chapel belonging thereto, or none wherein divine service thall be usually celebrated every Sunday, may be deemed extraparochial places for the purposes of this Act, but not for any other purpose.
Provided always, That nothing herein before contained Thall be construed to extend to deprive the Archbishop of Canterbury and bis fucceffors, and his and their proper officers, of the right which hath hitherto been uled, in virtue of a certain Statute made in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of the late King Henry the Eighth, intituled, An A&t concerning Peter Pence, and Dispensations ; of granting special licences to marry at any convenient time or place.
Provided always, and be it enacted, That, from and after the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four, no Surrogate deputed by any Ecclefiaftical Judge, who hath power to grant licences of marriage, shall grant any such licence before he hath taken an oath before the faid Judge faithfully to execute his office, according to law, to the best of his knowledge, and hath given fecurity by his bond in the sum of one hundred pounds to the Bishop of the diocese, for the due and faithful execution of his faid office.
And whereas many persons do folemnize matrimony in prisons and other places without publication of banns, or licence of marriage first had and obtained; therefore, for the prevention thereof, be it enacted, That if any person shall, from and after the said twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand seven hundred and fiftyfour, folemnize matrimony in any other place than a ehurch or public chapel, where banns have been usually published, unless by fpecial licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury; or thall folemnize matrimony without H4
publication of banns, unless licence of marriage be first had and obtained from fome person or persons having authority to grant the same, every person knowingly and wilfully so offending, and being lawfully convicted thereof, shall be deemed and adjudged to be guilty of felony, and fhall be transported to some of his Majesty's plantations in America, for the space of fourteen years, according to the laws in force for transportation of felons; and all marriages folemnized from and after the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four, in any other place than a church or fuch public chapel, unless by special licence as aforesaid, or that shall be folemnized without publication of banns, or licence of marriage from a person or persons having authority to grant the same, first had and obtained, shall be null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.
Provided, That all prosecutions for fuch felony shall be commenced within the space of three years after the offence committed. Provided always, That after the folemnization of
any marriage, under a publication of banns, it shall not be necessary, in support of such marriage, to give any proof of the actual dwelling of the parties in the respective parishes or chapelries wherein the banns of matrimony were published; or where the marriage is by licence, it shall not be necessary to give any proof that the usual place of abode of one of the parties, for the space of four weeks as aforesaid, was in the parish or chapelry where the marriage was folemnized; nor shall any evidence in either of the faid cafes be received to prove the contrary, in any fuit touching the validity of such marriage.
And it is hereby further enacted, That all marriages folemnized by licence, after the said twenty-fifth day of March one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four, where either of the parties, not being a widower or widow, shall be under the age of twenty-one years, which shall be had without the consent of the father of such of the parties so under age (if then living) first had and obtained, or, if dead, of the guardian or guardians of the person of the party fo under age, lawfully appointed, or one of them, and in case there shall be no such guardian or guardians, then of the mother, (if living and unmarried,) or if there shall be no mother living and unmarried, then of a guardian or guardians of the person appointed by the Court of Chancery, shall be absolutely null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.
And whereas it may happen, that the guardian or guardians, mother or mothers, of the parties to be married, or one of them, so under age as aforesaid, may be non compos mentis, or may be in parts beyond the feas, or may be induced unreasonably and by undue motives to abuse the trust reposed in bin, her, or them, by refusing or withholding his, her, or their consent to a proper marriage ; be it therefore enacted, That in case any fuch guardian or guardians, mother or mothers, or any of them whose confent is made neceffary as aforesaid, shall be non compos mentis, or in parts beyond the seas, or shall refuse or withhold his, her, or their consent to the marriage of any perfon, it shall and may be lawful for any person desirous of marrying, in any of the beforementioned cases, to apply by petition to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, or the Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal of Great Britain for the time being, who is and are hereby impowered to proceed, upon such petition, in a summary way; and in case the marriage proposed Thall upon examination appear to be proper, the said Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, or Lords Commisfioners of the Great Seal for the time being, shall judicially declare the same to be so by an order of Court, and such order shall be deemed and taken to be as good and effectual to all intents and purposes, as if the guardian or guardians, or mother of the person so petitioning, had consented to such marriage.
And it is hereby further enacted, That in no cafe whatsoever shall any suit or proceeding be had in any Ecclesiastical Court, in order to compel a celebration of any marriage in facie Ecclefiæ, by reason of any contract of matrimony whatsoever, whether per verba de præfenti, or per verba de futuro, which shall be entered into after the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four ; any law or usage to the contrary notwithstanding.
And, for preventing undue entries and abuses in registers of marriages, be it enacted by the authority aforelaid, That on or before the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four, and froin time to time afterwards as there shall be occafion, the Church-wardens and Chapel-wardens of every parish or chapelry shall provide proper books of vellum, or good and durable paper, in which all marriages and banns of marriage respectively there published or folemnized shall be registered, and every page thereof fall