Thursday, January 15, 2009

Regency Myth-takes


I thought this might be a fun feature from time to time. We all need a bit of fun in our lives. You may have seen the show mythbusters, where a couple of dudes test out urban myths, well there are lots of myths about the regency.

Fact or myth-take?

Marriage by the ship's captain

I thought we would look at one which comes up on the loops regularly. A young lord and his lady are escaping from their families by ship. They find that the attraction between them is more than they can handle. But our lord is an honourable man, and our lady is very prim and proper, so unless they get married—they are going to be in for a very frustrating few weeks of sailing.

So they ask the captain to marry them. And he does.

Or does he?

Romantic as it might sound, captains of ships during the Regency did not have the authority to marry couples on board. Indeed, marriages were performed by ministers only, either by calling the bans, or by special licence or ordinary licence.

An ordinary licence could be issued by any bishop or archbishop which obviated the need for a two week waiting period while the banns were read. The wedding had to take place in a church or chapel.

A special licence was to be had at Doctor's Commons in London from the Archbishop of Canterbury and meant that the couple could marry anywhere. But they still had to be married by a clergyman.

Hope I didn't burst your bubble. Until next time, Happy Rambles.