Marriage is a contract into which people under the age of twenty-one are capable of entering, and is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman.

The Age Of Consent

In order to establish a legal marriage the contracting parties must have reached the age of consent, which is fourteen in males and twelve in females. When both parties have arrived at the age of consent, the objections of parents and guardians will not be successful in setting the marriage aside if such objections are deferred until after the marriage has been celebrated. To prevent the union the parents or guardians must make their objections in time, during the publication of the banns or before the licence is granted. After the banns have been published a clergyman of the Church of England may solemnise a marriage between parties who are obviously under twenty-one years of age without the consent of their parents or guardians, provided that no notice of any objection on the part of such parents or guardians to the marriage is made either publicly in the church or notified to him privately. Although it is quite possible for young people under twenty-one years of age to get married without the consent of their parents or guardians, the general rule is that such consent should first be obtained before the marriage is celebrated.

Therefore, when parties under age go before a registrar or a surrogate in order to be married by certificate or licence, they will be required to satisfy the registrar that the consent of their parents has been obtained, or that there is nobody from whom such authority is necessary. And if the registrar has reason to doubt the truth of the. assertion, he is justified in demanding a written consent to the marriage from the parent or guardian, or in requiring the personal attendance of the parents of the party who is under age.


A person who is guilty of a false oath or fraud in procuring a marriage between a minor and himself is liable to forfeit all the property which accrues to him through the marriage.

For wilfully giving any false information for insertion in the marriage register, a person may be convicted of, and punished for, perjury. It is very important that every question should be answered correctly, although even a deliberate misstatement is less likely now to imperil the validity of the marriage than in bygone days, when it often proved fatal; if, however, a woman is unwilling to state her exact age, it is better for her to describe herself as of "full age," "about thirty," or "a minor," than to make a deliberate misstatement regarding it.

Anybody may hinder the grant of a certificate or a licence by lodging a caveat with the registrar, and paying a fee of five shillings. But the issue of a certificate may also be forbidden by any authorised person by writing the word "Forbidden" opposite the entry in the Marriage Notice Book, and subscribing his or her name, address, and authority.

When the minor is a widow or a widower, the consent of parents or guardians is not required.

Marriages may be contracted in any one of the following ways in England - viz., after the publication of banns in church, with the registrar's certificate in church,

Law by special licence at any time or any place, or with the registrar's certificate or licence at the registrar's office.

Roman Catholics, Quakers, Jews, and other persons who are not members of the Church of England, who wish to be married in their own places of worship, must do so by certificate or licence, and by securing the attendance of the registrar. by Banns

The usual and generally the cheapest way of getting married is by banns.

The minister is entitled to have seven days' notice in writing before publishing the banns, but may dispense with it when the parties are known to him.

The banns must be published on three several Sundays; in practice they are consecutive, although this is not absolutely necessary.

Residence in a parish since yesterday is quite sufficient to entitle a person to give notice as a parishioner for the publication of banns. If such notice is accepted without inquiry, then fifteen days' residence from the first to the last publication of the banns will entitle the parties to be married.

When the parties dwell in different parishes the banns must be published in each parish.

People who live in places which have no parish church must publish their banns in the adjoining parish.

If the marriage is not solemnised within three months, the banns must be republished.

The incumbent is entitled to " the accustomed fees," which vary according to circumstances, the position of the parties, the officiating clergyman, and the locality in which the church is situated. From two to five guineas would represent the fees for the average middle-class marriage, while the extreme poor pay a shilling for a copy of their " marriage lines."

A marriage by banns published under false names would be void if the mispublica-tion was made to the knowledge of both parties; if, however, it was done in ignorance, or one party was innocent of the deception, it would probably be valid.

A marriage by licence under a false name in the absence of fraud may be valid, but if a licence was obtained in one name and used for another person, the marriage would be void.

Foreign And Colonial Banns

The publication of banns abroad is not confined to the mere announcement of the intending marriage given from the pulpit of the parish churches of the contracting parties; in France, for example, the banns must be published at the town hall, not only of the contracting party, but also of that of the parent or guardian, whose consent is requisite for the lawful celebration of the marriage. In some parts of Germany publication is also made in the newspapers, not necessarily the local press.

In the Colonies, banns, as a general rule, must be published for three consecutive Sundays and during Divine Service; but in Nova Scotia the banns may be published at three several meetings on two or more Sundays. And in the North-west Territories banns must be proclaimed at least once in some religious assembly. In Jamaica no minister of religion who is not a marriage officer may publish banns, but ministers of religion may be appointed marriage officers for that purpose.


In each diocese the archbishop and bishops, through their officers and surrogates, grant ecclesiastical common licences which dispense with banns. Before the grant of such licence one of the parties must swear by affidavit that he or she has had his or her usual place of abode for fifteen days past in the parish. The residence must be a genuine residence, though not necessarily unbroken; to engage a room without occupying it would not be sufficient to justify a person in swearing to the fact of residence.

The cost of a common licence varies from 2 to 3. At the Vicar-general's Office, 3, Creed Lane, Ludgate Hill, E.c.; the Faculty Office, 23, Knightrider Street, Doctor's Commons; and the Bishop of London's Office, at I, Dean's Court, Doctor's Commons, the cost of a licence, inclusive of stamps, is 2 2s. 6d; and may be obtained by one of the contracting parties between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.