Marriage laws in the US – mostly declaring what some individual is not allowed to do – have been evolving since the 1600s. I agree with you!

As the author explains: “...the husband, conscious of the abatement of his youthful vigour, and his own weak imbecile performances of the conjugal rites, suspects his virtuous lady, and watches over her with Argus’s eyes, making himself and her unhappy by his senseless jealousy...”. The American Divorce Colonies of the 1800’s By Shannon Quinn. This database consists of facts extracted from obituaries found on™ dating from the early 1800’s to current. lol Glad we have it better and hope it continues. They could do with them whatever they wanted, even commit them to an asylum without the woman’s prior knowledge. Guy asks girl out. In Regency England, I would have, if my chosen partner agreed, headed straight for Gretna Green, consummated the marriage before returning home. Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries and A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty.

Thank you, Kay!

As the author relates: “Then she became impatient for her husband’s death, and now thought every day an age to live with him, and therefore sought opportunity to cut off that thread of life which she was of opinion nature lengthened out too long...”. In most cases, he writes, the wife will allow him nothing more than “pocket expenses,” but for that small sum, the young husband is “bound to do the basest drudgery.” In the rare event the wife is generous with her money, the author warns: “But if he meet with money (which was the only motive of the match, her gold being the greatest cordial at the wedding feast,) he may likely squander it profusely away in rioting amongst his whores, hoping, ere long, his antiquated wife will take a voyage to another world, and leave him to his liberty...”.

But even when the young wife’s conduct is beyond reproach, the author asserts that the elderly husband will still grow suspicious. These facts were pulled from a record by a computer and may not be accurate.

Those included marriages were one spouse was already married to another, when one of them was under the appropriate age or when proper permission hadn’t been given either by the lady herself or her family.

More from BUST. He begins by writing: “When greedy parents, for the sake of riches, will match a daughter that is scarcely seventeen, to an old miser that is above threescore; can anyone imagine that such a conjunction can ever yield satisfaction, where the inclinations are as opposite as the months of June and January.”.

This post orginally appeared on and has been reprinted with permission.

If a gentleman wished to get better acquainted with a lady, he could send flowers or visit her at her home, but only after informing her family and always under the watchful eye of the lady’s chaperone.

While researching for another article, I happened upon an 1840s book which espouses harsh—and quite unintentionally hilarious—views on age disparities in marriage. Written by an unknown author purporting to be Aristotle, it was the most widely read sex manual in 19th century England. When Anybody Who Was ANYBODY Had A Pet Parrot. In many people’s minds, the Regency Era, with its Dukes and Barons and Ladies seems like the era when fairy tales were true.

Though there is still room for improvement, it’s certainly true that women have it much better now! The exchange of letters between a couple that was not married or at the very least engaged, was considered scandalous and was forbidden!

Should the lady accept, the gentleman then had to ask her father or head of the family for her hand, which was an equally nerve-wrecking process, sometimes even more so than the courting itself, considering noble families had pretty high standards and it was within a father’s rights to refuse to a proposal for his daughter’s hand. This, I am sure, is most unnatural. During the Victorian Era (1837-1901), romantic love became viewed as the primary requirement for marriage and courting became even more formal — almost an art form among the upper classes.An interested gentleman could not simply walk up to a young lady and begin a conversation. At least you don’t have to deal with that! , I appreciate that you have shared this information with your readers—nice tidbits to understand as we read novels of that era, Indeed! Guy and girl like each other. More often than not, the exchange of letters is seen as one of the most romantic gestures between couples, as seen in movies and books. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.

Rejoice modern-day daters! Based on these portions of the manual, marriage seems an unpleasant—and rather dangerous—business. The world is so much better in our own minds, isn’t it?

Top photo of The Arranged Marriage by Vasili Pukirev, 1861.

Can’t imagine living under those constraints. This notion has been greatly cultivated by Hollywood movies that tend to present things through rose tinted glasses, depicting situations and the subsequent reactions that only show a fraction of the truth, if any. These days, dating is easy.

How marriage has changed over history. In the modern-day United States, there is a statistic that half of marriages end in divorce. I cannot imagine any strong independent woman today wanting to live under those conditions and restrictions.

Can you imagine worrying over every word exchanged or every tiny little interaction? This book, titled The Midwife’s Guide, is actually a Victorian edition of the 17th-century sex and midwifery manual known as Aristotle’s Masterpiece.

I can’t see how people could get to know one another well enough to spend the rest of their lives together with all the restrictions they were under.

I just wish some of your contemporaries knew as much as you…I get very frustrated at hacks who just pretend to place a story in that era with a modicum of knowledge of it…or none! Close familial bonds between spouses was also a valid reason to request an annulment, seeing as consanguinity in married couples was frowned upon. It must have been hard to find a marriage born out of true love!

Dating is hard enough in modern times without all those “rules” to follow. Even in the 1950s people where noting that it was impossible to really know anyone if all you could do is meet at church socials and dances.

Ugh, sorry for killing the fantasy girls!

It is very obvious that courtship and marriage could often be unpleasant affairs and could quite easily become ones worst nightmare.

Marriage contacts were very popular and mandatory, playing a very important part in arranging the distribution of wealth and property, but also in solidifying what would happen to the wife and offspring should something befall the husband.

Of course, the same rules did not apply to women and things were a lot harder for them. It would be hard, if not impossible, for a modern, independent woman of today to live in those times.

This database is presented index only, with a link to the digitized page on™. A man was looking for an agreeable woman who could take care of his house and raise his family and a woman was looking for a breadwinner. This suspicion arises not from the wife’s behavior, but from the husband’s own deficiencies.

Of course, accepting ones proposal didn’t by any means suggest that things were over. This post orginally appeared on and has been reprinted with permission. Marriage bonds seem to be most common in the United States in the 1700s and early 1800s. Just imagine any parent trying to force these types of restrictions on a modern-day, educated, independent woman!

By the time the Prince Regent rose to power, the notion of marrying for love had already started gaining ground in people’s minds as opposed to previous years when marriages were almost exclusively political and resembled business deals more than actual marriages.

Not much could have been done then, especially if I turned up pregnant.

The idea that a couple could get their marriage annulled if they didn’t consummate it did not apply in Regency England. More often than not, these depictions take place in the Georgian Era, including the Regency period.

Very true!

The underlying principle, which informed these codes, was that a young person displayed her or his availability and attractions to appropriate members of the opposite sex effectively, yet without deception, vulgarity or exploitation. Witness to the marriage may prove to be related to the bride and groom.

A merchant’s daughter, for example, could a make a good match if she were rich enough and her reputation beyond question.

To learn more, please visit Other marriages that could be annulled were those that were never valid in the first place.


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