§ 694. Marriage brokage contracts, by "which are meant contracts or agreements to negotiate a marriage between two parties, for a certain compensation, are utterly void,6 and incapable of confirmation;7 and even money paid upon them may be reclaimed in equity.8 The law considers marriage as a moral and political duty, and all improper restrictions upon freedom of choice, and all agreements tending to impair that mutual love and confidence upon which domestic happiness has its only safe foundation, and which are the only securities for faithfulness and morality in marriage, are stains which it will not permit to rest upon its ermine. Where, therefore, a bond was given, by which the obligor bound himself to pay a certain compensation to the obligee for his assistance afforded in effecting an elopement and marriage, it was held to be utterly void, although it was freely given after the marriage, and not in consequence of any previous agreement to that effect; upon the ground that it directly tended to encourage an immoral and illegal act, and, to enforce it, would be to offer a reward for seduction.1 For the same reason, if a parent or guardian, or any person nearly connected to a party, privately connive with a third person, and agree to forward a marriage between such parties, by the exertion of an improper influence, in consideration of a certain compensation; or agree, upon payment of a certain sum, to consent to such marriage, the contract will be utterly void; upon the ground that it is a bargain in contravention of the right of third persons, and as iniquitous morally as legally. Thus, where a party gave a bond for a particular sum to B., in consideration that B. would consent that he should marry B.'s daughter, it was held to be void.2
1 Hindley v. Marquis of Westmeath, 6 B. & C. 201, 212.
2 Ibid.; Jee v. Thurlow, 2B.&C. 547; St. John v. St. John, 11 Ves. 534.
3 Bucknell v. Bucknell, 7 Irish Ch. 130 (1857).
4 Hindley v. Marquis of Westmeath, 6 B. & C. 200, 212.
5 Moore v. Usher, 7 Sim. 384.
6 Boynton v. Hubbard, 7 Mass. 118; Arundel v. Trevillian, 1 Rep. Ch. 87; Drury v. Hooke, 1 Vern. 412; Hall v. Potter, 3 Lev. 411; 8. c. Show. P. C. 76; Cole v. Gibson, 1 Ves 507; Debenham v. Ox, 1 Ves. 276; Smith v. Aykwell, 3 Atk. 566; Hylton v. Hylton, 2 Ves. 548; Stribble-hill v. Brett, 2 Vern. 446; s. c. Pr. Ch. 165; s. c. 1 Bro. P. C. 57; Roberts v. Roberts, 3 P. Wms. 74, note 1, 75, 76; Law v. Law, 3 P. Wms. 394; 1 Story, Eq. Jur. § 263; Drury v. Hooke, 1 Vern. 412.
7 Cole v. Gibson, 1 Ves. 503; 1 Fonbl. Eq. B. 1, ch. 4, § 10, note s; Roberts v. Roberts, 3 P. Wms. 74, and Cox's note.
8 Smith v. Bruning, 2 Vern. 392; 1 Fonbl. Eq. B. 1, ch. 4, § 10; Goldsmith v. Bruning, 1 Eq. Cas. Abr. 89. See Crawford v. Russell, 62 Barb. 92 (1872).