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26 Geo. II. cap. xxxiii.
An Act for the better preventing of Clandeftine Marriages.
THEREAS great mifchiefs and inconveniences have arifen from clandeftine marriages; for preventing thereof for the future, be it enacted by the King's moft excellent Majefty, by and with the advice and confent of the Lords fpiritual and temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament affembled, and by the authority of the fame, That, from and after the twentyfifth day of March in the year of our Lord one thou fand feven hundred and fifty-four, all banns of matrimony fhall be published in an audible manner in the parith-church, or in fome public chapel, in which public chapel banns of matrimony have been ufually published, of or belonging to fuch parish or chapelry, wherein the perfons to be married fhall dwell, according to the form of words prescribed by the Rubric prefixed to the Office of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer, upon three Sundays preceding the folemnization of marriage, during the time of morning fervice, or of evening fervice, (if there be no morning fervice in fuch, church or chapel,) upon any of thofe Sundays, immediately after the Second Leffon : and whenfoever it fhall happen that the perfons to be married fhall dwell in divers parishes or chapelries, the banns fhall in like manner be published in the church or chapel belonging to fuch parish or chapelry wherein each of the faid perfons fhall dwell; and where both or either of the perfons to be married fhall dwell in any extraparochial place, (having no church or chapel wherein banns have been usually published,) then the banns fhall in like manner be published in the parishchurch or chapel belonging to fome parifn or chapelry adjoining to fuch extraparochial place: and where banns fhall be published in any church or chapel belonging to any parish adjoining to fuch extraparochial place, Parfon, Vicar, Minifter, or Curate, publishing fach
fhall, in writing under his hand, certify the publication thereof in fuch manner as if either of the perfons to be married dwelt in fuch adjoining parish; and that all other the rules prescribed by the faid Rubric concerning the publication of banns, and the folemnization of matrimony, and not hereby altered, fhall be duly observed; and that in all cafes where banns fhall have been publifhed, the marriage fhall be folemnized in one of the parish-churches or chapels where fuch banns have been publifhed, and in no other place whatsoever.
Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted, That no Parfon, Vicar, Minifter, or Curate, fhall be obliged to publifh the banns of matrimony between any perfons whatsoever, unless the persons to be married fhall, feven days at the leaft before the time required for the firft publication of fuch banns refpectively, deliver, or caufe to be delivered, to fuch Parfon, Vicar, Minister, or Curate, a notice in writing of their true chriftian and furnames, and of the houfe or houses of their respective abodes within fuch parish, chapelry, or extraparochial place as aforefaid, and of the time during which they have dwelt, inhabited, or lodged in fuch house or houses respectively.
Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforefaid, That no Parfon, Minifter, Vicar, or Curate, folemnizing marriages after the twenty-fifth day of March one thoufand feven hundred and fifty-four, between perfons, both or one of whom shall be under the age of twenty-one years, after banns published, shall be punishable by ecclefiaftical cenfures for folemnizing fuch marriages without confent of parents or guardians, whofe confent is required by law, unless fuch Parfon, Minifter, Vicar, or Curate, fhall have notice of the diffent of fuch parents or guardians; and in cafe fuch parents or guardians, or one of them, fhall openly and publicly declare, or caufe to be declared, in the church or chapel where the banns fhall be fo published, at the time of fuch publication, his, her, or their diffent to fuch marriage, fuch publication of banns fhall be abfolutely void.
And it is hereby further enacted, That no licence of marriage fhall, from and after the faid twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thoufand feven hundred and fifty-four, be granted by any Archbishop, Bishop, or other Ordinary or perfon having authority to grant fuch ences, to foletonize any marriage in any other church or chapel than in the parith-church or public chapel of or
belonging to the parish or chapelry within which the ufual place of abode of one of the perfons to be married fhall have been for the space of four weeks immediately before the granting of fuch licence; or where both or either of the parties to be married fhall dwell in any extraparochial place, having no church or chapel wherein banns have been usually published, than in the parishchurch or chapel belonging to fome parish or chapelry adjoining to fuch extraparochial place, and in no other place whatsoever.
Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforefaid, That all parishes where there fhall be no parishchurch or chapel belonging thereto, or none wherein divine fervice thall be ufually celebrated every Sunday, may be deemed extraparochial places for the purposes of this Act, but not for any other purpose.
Provided always, That nothing herein before contained fhall be conftrued to extend to deprive the Archbishop of Canterbury and his fucceffors, and his and their proper officers, of the right which hath hitherto been used, in virtue of a certain Statute made in the twenty-fifth year of the reign of the late King Henry the Eighth, intituled, An Act concerning Peter Pence, and Difpenfations; of granting fpecial licences to marry at any convenient time or place.
Provided always, and be it enacted, That, from and after the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four, no Surrogate deputed by any Ecclefiaftical Judge, who hath power to grant licences of marriage, fhall grant any fuch licence before he hath taken an oath before the faid Judge faithfully to execute his office, according to law, to the beft of his knowledge, and hath given fecurity by his bond in the fum of one hundred pounds to the Bishop of the diocefe, for the due and faithful execution of his faid office.
And whereas many perfons do folemnize matrimony in prifons and other places without publication of banns, or licence of marriage firft had and obtained; therefore, for the prevention thereof, be it enacted, That if any perfon fhall, from and after the faid twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand seven hundred and fiftyfour, folemnize matrimony in any other place than a church or public chapel, where banns have been usually publifhed, unless by fpecial licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury; or thall folemnize matrimony without
publication of banns, unless licence of marriage be firft had and obtained from fome perfon or perfons having authority to grant the fame, every perfon knowingly and wilfully fo offending, and being lawfully convicted thereof, fhall be deemed and adjudged to be guilty of felony, and fhall be tranfported to fome of his Majefty's plantations in America, for the space of fourteen years, according to the laws in force for transportation of felons; and all marriages folemnized from and after the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thoufand feven hundred and fifty-four, in any other place than a church or fuch public chapel, unless by fpecial licence as aforefaid, or that fhall be folemnized without publication of banns, or licence of marriage from a perfon or perfons having au thority to grant the fame, first had and obtained, fhall be null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.
Provided, That all profecutions for fuch felony fhall be commenced within the space of three years after the offence committed.
Provided always, That after the folemnization of any marriage, under a publication of banns, it fhall not be neceffary, in fupport of fuch marriage, to give any proof of the actual dwelling of the parties in the respective parishes or chapelries wherein the banns of matrimony were publifhed; or where the marriage is by licence, it fhall not be neceffary to give any proof that the ufual place of abode of one of the parties, for the space of four weeks as aforefaid, was in the parifh or chapelry where the marriage was folemnized; nor fhall any evidence in either of the faid cafes be received to prove the contrary, in any fuit touching the validity of fuch marriage.
And it is hereby further enacted, That all marriages folemnized by licence, after the faid twenty-fifth day of March one thousand seven hundred and fifty-four, where either of the parties, not being a widower or widow, fhall be under the age of twenty-one years, which fhall be had without the confent of the father of fuch of the parties fo under age (if then living) first had and obtained, or, if dead, of the guardian or guardians of the perfon of the party fo under age, lawfully appointed, or one of them, and in cafe there fhall be no fuch guardian or guardians, then of the mother, (if living and unmarried,) or if there fhall be no mother living and unmarried, then of a guardian or guardians of the perfon appointed by the Court of Chancery, fhall be abfolutely null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever.
And whereas it may happen, that the guardian or guardians, mother or mothers, of the parties to be married, or one of them, fo under age as aforefaid, may be non compos mentis, or may be in parts beyond the feas, or may be induced unreasonably and by undue motives to abuse the trust reposed in him, her, or them, by refusing or withholding his, her, or their confent to a proper marriage; be it therefore enacted, That in cafe any fuch guardian or guardians, mother or mothers, or any of them whofe confent is made neceffary as aforefaid, fhall be non compos mentis, or in parts beyond the seas, or fhall refufe or withhold his, her, or their confent to the marriage of any perfon, it shall and may be lawful for any perfon defirous of marrying, in any of the beforementioned cafes, to apply by petition to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, or the Lords Commiffioners of the Great Seal of Great Britain for the time being, who is and are hereby impowered to proceed, upon fuch petition, in a fummary way; and in cafe the marriage propofed fhall upon examination appear to be proper, the faid Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, or Lords Commiffioners of the Great Seal for the time being, fhall judicially declare the fame to be fo by an order of Court, and fuch order fhall be deemed and taken to be as good and effectual to all intents and purposes, as if the guardian or guardians, or mother of the person so petitioning, had confented to fuch marriage.
And it is hereby further enacted, That in no cafe whatfoever fhall any fuit or proceeding be had in any Ecclefiaftical Court, in order to compel a celebration of any marriage in facie Ecclefiæ, by reafon of any contract of matrimony whatfoever, whether per verba de præfenti, or per verba de futuro, which fhall be entered into after the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand feven hundred and fifty-four; any law or ufage to the contrary notwithstanding.
And, for preventing undue entries and abufes in regifters of marriages, be it enacted by the authority aforefaid, That on or before the twenty-fifth day of March in the year one thousand feven hundred and fifty-four, and from time to time afterwards as there fhall be occafion, the Church-wardens and Chapel-wardens of every parish or chapelry fhall provide proper books of vellum, or good and durable paper, in which all marriages and banns of marriage refpectively there publifhed or folemnized fhall be registered, and every page thereof shall