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Re: [scots-origins] Re: Warrant of Sherriff Substitute

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  • IACSCOTT@aol.com
    In a message dated 10/08/2004 17:45:09 GMT Daylight Time, camcq@shaw.ca ... Hi Irregular marriages preceded civil marriages performed by the Registrar which
    Message 1 of 4 , Aug 10, 2004
      In a message dated 10/08/2004 17:45:09 GMT Daylight Time, camcq@...

      > Would this then be close to today's civil marriage?
      > Do you know if the two who witnessed the vows had to have any
      > particular qualifications to perform this marriage?
      > Any thoughts on why the couple chose not to have a 'regular marriage'
      > other than the thought that there was likely going to be a premature
      > birth soon?
      > I don't remember now whether or not I mentioned this in the original
      > posting but this marriage took place in 1924.


      Irregular marriages preceded civil marriages performed by the Registrar which
      were not introduced until 1940. They were frowned upon by the Kirk Session
      and the parties to the marriage were very likely to be rebuked by the Kirk
      Session. Not only that, they and their witnesses were liable to be fined and as a
      result you may find reference to such marriages in the Kirk Session Minutes and
      the records of the J.P. and Burgh Court records.

      To answer your question as regards the 'qualification' of the witnesses to
      perform an irregular marriage I can only say there was no need for that as the
      couple only required to state before two witnesses that they were to be
      regarded as Husband and Wife. Thereafter, to have the marriage registered post 1855,
      it was necessary to obtain the Sheriff's Warrant.
      Prior to 1855 the Established Church was responsible for keeping Parish
      records and while it was intended that all events be recorded therein it was not
      compulsory and many were not entered in the Old Parochial Registers for various
      reasons such as cost or different religious denomination. In this case the
      Kirk Session Minute can come into play if it records the censuring of the couple
      for the irregular marriage

      As to the reason for choosing to have an irregular marriage there could be
      many reasons but I do not think that the imminent birth of an illegitimate child
      had much to do with it. I have come across quite a number of births just
      prior to or immediately after a marriage performed by a clergyman and the thought
      'test and try before you buy' has often crossed my mind. On the other hand the
      Kirk Session Minutes can often be found to contain page upon page of what is
      described as 'Discipline' meted out to young women who produce a child outwith
      marriage and in other cases where the couple have married but the child
      appears well within nine months of the marriage being performed. The 'crime' being
      described as 'pre-nuptial fornication' in many cases.

      I hope this answers your query

      Ian A C Scott

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