Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   

An Act for amending the Laws respecting the Solemnization of Marriages in England.
[18th July 1823]

 

'Whereas it is expedient to amend the Laws respecting the Solemnization of Marriages in England ;' Be it enacted by the King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That from and after the First Day of November next ensuing the passing of this Act, so much of an Act passed in the Twenty sixth Year of the Reign of King George the Second, intituled An Act for the better preventing of Clandestine Marriages, as was in force immediately before the passing of this Act ; and also an Act passed in the present Session of Parliament, intituled An Act to  repeal certain Provisions of an Act passed in the Third Year of His present Majesty, intituled 'An Act to amend certain Provisions of the Twenty sixth of George the Second, for the better preventing of Clandestine Marriages ;' shall be and the same are hereby repealed ; save and except as to any Acts, Matters or Things done under the Provisions of the said recited Acts, or either of them, before the said First Day of November, as to which the said recited Acts shall respectively be of the same Force and Effect as if this Act had not been made save also and except so far as the said recited Acts, or either of them, repeal any former Act, or any Clause, Matter or Thing therein contained.

 

II. And be it further enacted, That from and after the First Day of November all Banns of Matrimony shall be published in an audible Manner in the Parish Church, or in some Public Chapel, in which Chapel Banns of Matrimony may now or may hereafter be lawfully published, of or belonging to such Parish or Chapelry wherein the Persons to be married shall dwell, according to the Form of Words prescribed by the Rubrick prefixed to the Office of Matrimony in the Book of Common Prayer, upon Three Sundays preceding Solemnization Marriage, during the Time of Morning Service, or of the of Evening Service, (if there shall he no Morning Service in such Church or Chapel upon the Sunday upon which such Banns shall be so published,) immediately after the Second Lesson ; and whensoever it shall happen that the Persons to be married shall dwell in divers Parishes or Chapelries, the Banns shall in like Manner be published in the Church or in any such Chapel as aforesaid belonging to such Parish or Chapelry wherein each of the said Persons shall dwell ; and that all other the Rules prescribed by the said Rubrick concerning the Publication of Banns and the Solemnization of Matrimony, and not hereby altered, shall be duly observed and that in all Cases where Banns shall have been published, the Marriage shall be solemnized in one of the Parish Churches or Chapels where such Banns shall have been published, and in no other Place whatsoever.

III. And be it further enacted, That the Bishop of the Diocese, with the Consent of the Patron and the Incumbent of the Church of the Parish in which any public Chapel, having a Chapelry thereunto annexed, may be situated, or of any Chapel situated in an Extra parochial Place, signified to him under their Hands and Seals respectively, may authorize, by Writing under his Hand and Seal, the Publication of Banns and the Solemnization of Marriages in such Chapel for Persons residing within such Chapelry or Extra parochial Place respectively and such Consent, together with such written Authority, shall be registered in the Registry of the Diocese.

IV. Provided always, and be it enacted, That in every Chapel in respect of which such Authority shall be given as aforesaid, there shall be placed in some conspicuous Part of the Interior of such Chapel a Notice in the Words following: “ Banns may be published and Marriages solemnized in this Chapel’

V. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That all Provisions now in force, or which may hereafter be established by Law, relative to providing and keeping Marriage Registers in any Parish Churches, shall extend and be construed to extend to any Chapel in which the Publication of Banns and Solemnization of Marriages shall be so authorized as aforesaid, in the same Manner as if the same were a Parish Church; and every thing required by Law to be done relative thereto by the Churchwardens of any Parish Church shall be done by the Chapelwarden or other Officer exercising analogous Duties in such Chapel.

VI. And be it further enacted, That on or before the said First Day of November, and from time to time afterwards as there shall be Occasion, the Church wardens and Chapelwardens of Churches and Chapels wherein Marriages are solemnized, shall provide a proper Book of substantial Paper, marked and ruled respectively in Manner directed for the Register Book of Marriages ; and the Banns shall be published from the said Register Book of Banns by the officiating Minister, and not from loose Papers, and after Publication shall be signed by the officiating Minister, or by some Person under his Direction.

VII. Provided always, and it is hereby further enacted, That no Parson, Vicar, Minister or Curate shall be obliged to publish the Banns of Matrimony between any Persons whatsoever, unless the Persons to be married shall, Seven Days at the least before the Time required for the first Publication of such Banns respectively, deliver or cause to be delivered to such Parson, Vicar, Minister or Curate, a Notice in Writing, dated on the Day on which the same shall be so delivered, of their true Christian Names and Surnames, and of the House or Houses of their respective Abodes within such Parish or Chapelry as aforesaid, and of the Time during which they have dwelt, inhabited or lodged in such House or Houses respectively.

VIII. Provided always, and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, no Parson, Minister, Vicar or Curate, solemnizing Marriages after the First Day of November next, between Persons both or one of whom shall be under the Age of Twenty one Years, after Banns published, shall be punishable by Ecclesiastical Censures for solemnizing such Marriages without Consent of Parents or Guardians, unless such Parson, Minister, Vicar or Curate shall have Notice of the Dissent of such Parents or Guardians; and in case such Parents or Guardians, or one of them, shall openly and publicly declare or cause to be declared, in the Church or Chapel where the Banns shall be so published, at the Time of such Publication, his, her or their Dissent to such Marriage, such Publication of Banns shall be absolutely void.

IX. And be it further enacted, That whenever a Marriage shall not be had within Three Months after the complete Publication of Banns, no Minister shall proceed to the Solemnization of the same until the Banns shall have been republished on Three several Sundays, in the Form and Manner prescribed in this Act, unless by Licence duly obtained according to the Provisions of this Act.

X. And it is hereby further enacted, That no Licence of Marriage shall, from and after the said First Day of November, be granted by any Archbishop, Bishop, or other Ordinary or Person having Authority to grant such Licences, to solemnize any Marriage in any other Church or Chapel than in the Parish Church or in some Public Chapel of or belonging to the Parish or Chapelry within which the usual Place of Abode of One of the Persons to be married shall have been for the Space of Fifteen Days immediately before the granting of such Licence.

XI. And be it further enacted, That if any Caveat be entered against the Grant of any Licence for a Marriage, such Caveat being duly signed by or on the Behalf of the Person who enters the same, together with his Place of Residence and the Ground of Objection on which his Caveat is founded, no Licence shall issue till the said Caveat, or a true Copy thereof, be transmitted to the Judge out of whose Office the Licence is to issue, and until the Judge has certified to the Register that he has examined into the Matter of the Caveat, and is satisfied That it ought not to obstruct the Grant of the Licence for the said Marriage, or until the Caveat be withdrawn by the Party who entered the same.

XII. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That all Parishes where there shall be no Parish Church or Chapel belonging thereto, or none wherein Divine Service shall be usually solemnized every Sunday, and all Extra parochial Places whatever, having no Public Chapel wherein Banns may be lawfully published, shall be deemed and taken to belong to any Parish or Chapelry next adjoining, for the Purposes of this Act only; and where Banns shall be published in any Church or Chapel of any Parish or Chapelry adjoining to any such Parish or Chapelry where there shall be no Church or Chapel, or none wherein Divine Service shall be solemnized as aforesaid, or to any Extra parochial Place as aforesaid, the Parson, Vicar, Minister or Curate publishing such Banns shall, in Writing under his Hand, certify the Publication thereof in the same Manner as if either of the Persons to be married had dwelt in such adjoining Parish or Chapelry.

XIII. Provided always, and be it further enacted and declared, That if the Church of any Parish, or Chapel of any Chapelry, Wherein Marriages have been usually solemnized, be demolished in order to be rebuilt, or be under Repair, and on such Account be disused for public Service; it shall be lawful for the Banns to be proclaimed in a Church or Chapel of any adjoining Parish or Chapelry in which Banns are usually proclaimed or in any Place within the Limits of the Parish or Chapelry which shall be licensed by the Bishop of the Diocese for the Performance of Divine Service during the Repair or re-building of the Church as aforesaid; and where no such Place shall be so licensed, then, during such Period as aforesaid, the Marriage may be solemnized in the adjoining Church or Chapel wherein the Banns have been proclaimed; and all Marriages heretofore solemnized in other Places within the said Parishes or chapelries than the said Churches or Chapels, on account of their being under Repair, or taken down in order to be rebuilt, shall not be liable to have their Validity questioned on that account, nor shall the Ministers who have so solemnized the same be liable to any Ecclesiastical Censure, or to any other Proceeding or Penalty whatsoever.

XIV. And be it further enacted, for avoiding all Fraud and Collusion in obtaining of Licences for Marriage, That before any such Licence be granted, One of the Parties shall personally swear before the Surrogate or other Person having Authority to grant the same, that he or she believeth that there is no Impediment of Kindred or Alliance, or of any other lawful Cause, nor any Suit commenced in any Ecclesiastical Court, to bar or hinder the proceeding of the said Matrimony according to the Tenor of the said Licence; and that One of the said Parties hath, for the Space of Fifteen Days immediatelv preceding such Licence, had his or her usual Place of Abode within the Parish or Chapelry within which such Marriage is to be solemnized; and where either of the Parties, not being a Widower or Widow shall be under the Age of Twenty one Years, that the Consent of the Person or Persons whose Consent to such Marriage is required under the Provisions of this Act has been obtained thereto : Provided always, that if there shall he no such Person or Persons having Authority to give such Consent, then upon Oath made to that Effect by the Party requiring such Licence, it shall be lawful to grant such Licence notwithstanding the Want of any such Consent.

XV. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That it shall not be required of any Person applying for any such Licence, to give any Caution or Security, by Bond or otherwise, before such Licence is granted; any Thing in any Act or Canon to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.

XVI. And be it further enacted, That the Father, if living, of any Party under Twenty one Years of Age, such Parties not being a Widower or Widow; or if the Father shall be dead, the Guardian or Guardians  of the Person of the Party so under Age, lawfully appointed, or One of them and in case there shall be no such Guardian or Guardians, then the Mother of such Party, if unmarried; and if there shall be no Mother unmarried, then the Guardian or Guardians of the Person appointed by the Court of Chancery,  if any, or One of them, shall have Authority to give Consent to the Mairiage of such Party; and such Consent is hereby required for the Marriage of such Party so under Age, unless there shall be no Person authorized to give such consent.

XVII. And be it further enacted, That in case the Father or Fathers of the Parties to be married, or of One of them, so under Age as aforesaid, shall be non compos Mentis, or the Guardian or Guardians, Mother or Mothers, or any of them whose Consent is made necessary as aforesaid to the Marriage of such Party or Parties, shall be non compos Mentis, or in Parts beyond the Seas, or shall unreasonably or from undue Motives refuse or withhold his, her or their Consent to a proper Marriage, then it shall and may be lawful for any Person desirous of marrying, in any of the before mentioned Cases, to apply by Petition to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper or the Lords Commissioners of the Great Seal of Great Britain for the Time being, Master of the Rolls or Vice Chancellor of England, who is and are respectively  hereby empowered. to proceed upon such Petition in a summary Way; and in case the Marriage proposed shall upon Examination appear to be proper, said Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper or Lords the Commissioners of the Great Seal for the Time being, Master of the Rolls or Vice Chancellor, shall judicially declare the same to be so; and such judicial Declaration shall be deemed and taken to be as good and effectual, to all Intents and Purposes, as if the Father, Guardian or Guardians, or Mother of the Person so petitioning had consented to such Marriage.

XVIII. Provided always, and be it enacted, That from and after the said First Day of November no Surrogate hereafter to be deputed by any Ecclesiastical Judge who hath Power to grant Licences, shall grant any such Licence until he hath taken an Oath before the said Judge, or before a Commissioner appointed by Commission under the Seal of the said Judge, which Commission the said Judge is hereby authorized to issue, faithfully to execute his Office according to Law, to the best of his Knowledge, and hath given Security by his Bond in the Sum of One hundred Pounds to the Bishop of the Diocese for the due and faithful Execution of his said Office.

XIX. And be it also enacted, That whenever a Marriage shall not be had within Three Months after the Grant of a Licence by any Archbishop, Bishop, or any Ordinary or Person having Authority to grant such Licence, no Minister shall proceed to the Solemnization of such Marriage until a new Licence shall, have been obtained, unless by Banns duly published according to the Provisions of this Act.

XX. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That nothing hereinbefore contained shall be Construed to extend to deprive the Archbishop of Canterbury and his Successors, 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 Dispensations,’ of granting Special Licences to marry at any convenient Time or Place.

XXI. And be it further acted, That if any Person shall, from and after the said First Day of November, solemnize Matrimony in any other Place than a Church or such Public Chapel wherein Banns may be lawfully published, or at any other Time than between the Hours of Eight and Twelve in the Forenoon, unless by Special Licence from the Archbishop of Canterbury, or shall solemnize Matrimony without due Publication of Banns, unless Licence of Marriage be first had and obtained from some Person or Persons having Authority to grant the same; or if any Person, falsely pretending to in Holy Orders, shall solemnize Matrimony according to the Rites of the Church of England; every Person knowingly and wilfully so offending, and being lawfully convicted thereof, shall be deemed and adjudged to be guilty of Felony, and shall be transported for the Space of Fourteen Years, according to the Laws in force for Transportation of Felons: Provided that all Prosecutions for such Felony shall be commenced within the Space of Three Years after the Offence committed.

XXII. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That if any Persons shall knowingly and wilfully intermarry in any other Place than a Church, or such Public Chapel wherein Banns may be lawfully published, unless by Special Licence as aforesaid, or shall knowingly and wilfully intermarry without due Publication of Banns, or Licence from a Person or Persons having Authority to grant the same, first had and obtained, or shall knowingly and wilfully consent to or acquiesce in the Solemnization of such Marriage by any Person not being in Holy Orders, the Marriages of such Persons shall be null and void to all Intents and Purposes whatsoever.

XXIII. And be it further enacted, That if any valid Marriage solemnized by Licence shall, after the of November next, be procured by a Party to such Marriage to be solemnized said First Day between Persons, one or both of whom shall be under the Age of Twenty one Years, not being a Widower or Widow, contrary to the Provisions of this Act, by Means of such Party falsely swearing as to any Matter or Matters to Which such Party is hereinbefore required personally to swear, such Party wilfully and knowingly so swearing; or if any valid Marriage by Banns shall, after the said First Day of November next, be procured by a Party thereto to be solemnized by Banns between Persons, one or both of whom shall be under the Age of Twenty one Years, not being a Widower or Widow, such Party knowing that such Person as aforesaid under the Age of Twenty one Years had a Parent or Guardian then living, and that such Marriage was had without the Consent of such Parent or Guardian, and knowing that Banns had not been duly published according to the Provisions of this Act, and having knowingly caused or

procured the undue Publication of Banns, then and in every such Case it shall be lawful for His Majesty’s Attorney General (or for His Majesty’s Solicitor General in case of the Vacancy of the Office of Attorney  General) by Information in the Nature of an English Bill in the Court of Chancery or Court of Exchequer, at the Relation of a Parent or Guardian of the Minor, whose Consent has not been given to such Marriage, and who shall be responsible for any Costs incurred in such Suit, such Parent or Guardian previously making Oath as is hereinafter required, to sue for a Forfeiture of all Estate, Right, Title and Interest in any Property which hath accrued or shall accrue to the Party so offending by force of such Marriage; and such Court shall have Power in such Suit to declare such Forfeiture, and thereupon to order and direct that all such Estate, Right, Title and Interest in any Property as shall then have accrued, or shall thereafter accrue to such offending Party, by force of such Marriage, shall be secured under the Direction of such Court for the Benefit of the innocent Party, or of the Issue of the Marriage, or of any of them, in such Manner as the said Court shall think fit, for the Purpose of preventing the offending Party from deriving any Interest in Real or Personal Estate, or pecuniary Benefits from such Marriage; and if both the Parties so contracting Marriage shall, in the Judgment of the Court, be guilty of any such Offence as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the said Court to settle and secure such Property, or any Part thereof, immediately for the Benefit of the Issue of the Marriage, subject to such Provisions for the offending Parties, by Way of Maintenance or otherwise as the said Court, under the particular Circum­stances of the Case, shall think reasonable, Regard being had to the Benefit of the Issue of the Marriage during the Lives of their Parents, and of the Issue of the Parties respectively by any future Marriage, or of the Parties themselves, in case either of them shall survive the other; Provided also, that no such Information as aforesaid shall be filed, unless it shall be made out to the Satisfaction of the Attorney or Solicitor General before he files the same, by Oath or Oaths sworn before One of the Masters in Ordinary  in Chancery, or before One of the Barons of the Exchequer, and which they are hereby respectively empowered to a minister, that the valid Marriage to be complained of in such Information hath been solemnized in such Manner and under such Circumstances, as in the Judgment of the said Attorney or Solicitor General are sufficient to authorize the filing the Information under the Provisions of this Act, and that such Marriage has been solemnized without the Consent of the Party or Parties at whose Relation such Information is proposed to be filed, or of any other Parent or Guardian of the Minor married, to the Knowledge or Belief of the Relator or Relators so making Oath; and that such Relator or Relators had not known or discovered that such Marriage had been solemnized more than Three Months previous to his or their Application to the Attorney or Solicitor General.

XXIV. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That all Agreements, Settlements and Deeds, entered into or executed by the Parties to any Marriage, in consequence for in relation to which Marriage such Information as aforesaid shall be filed, or by either of the said Parties, before and in contemplation of such Marriage, or after such Marriage, for the Benefit of the Parties or either of them, or their Issue, so far the same shall be contrary to or inconsistent with the Provisions of such Security and Settlement as shall be made by or under the Direction of such Court as aforesaid, under the Authority of this Act, shall be absolutely void, and have no Force or Effect.

XXV. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That any original Information to be filed for the Purpose of obtaining a Declaration of any such Forfeiture as aforesaid, shall be filed within One Year after the Solemnization of the Marriage by which such Forfeiture shall have been incurred, and shall be prosecuted with due Diligence and in case any Person or necessary Party to any such Information shall abscond or continue out of England, it shall be lawful for the Court in which such Information shall be filed to order such Person to appear to such Information, and answer the same, within such Time as to such Court shall seem fit; and to cause such Order to be served on such Person at any Place out of England, to cause such Order to be inserted in the London Gazette, and such other British or Foreign Newspapers as to such Court shall seem proper; and in Default of such Person appearing and answering such Information within the Time to be limited as aforesaid, to order such Information to be taken confessed by such Person, and to proceed to make such Decree or Order upon such Information as such Court might have made if such Person had appeared to and answered such Information: Provided always, that in case the Person at whose Relation any such Suit shall have been instituted shall die Pending such Suit, it shall be lawful for the Court of Chancery, if such Court shall see fit, to appoint a proper Person or proper Persons at whose Relation such Suit may be continued.

XXVI. Provided always, and be it further enacted, That after the Solemnization of any Marriage under a Publication of Banns, it shall not be necessary in support of such Marriage to give any Proof of the actual Dwelling of the Parties in the respective Parishes or Chapelries wherein the Banns of Matrimony were published; or where the Marriage is by Licence, it shall not be necessary to give any  Proof that the usual Place of Abode of one of the Parties, for the Space of Fifteen Days as aforesaid,  was in the Parish or Chapelry where the Marriage was solemnized; nor shall any Evidence in either of the said Cases be received to prove the contrary in any Suit touching the Validity of such Marriage.

XXVII. And be it further enacted, That in no Case whatsoever shall any Suit or Proceedings be had in any Ecclesiastical Court, in order to compel a Celebration of any Marriage in Facie Ecclesiæ, by reason of any Contract of Matrimony whatsoever, whether per Verba de præsenti, or per Verba de futuro, any Law or Usage to the contrary notwithstanding.

XXVIII. And, in order to preserve the Evidence of Marriages, and to make the Proof thereof more certain and easy, and for the Direction of Ministers in the Celebration of Marriages and registering thereof, Be it enacted That from and after the said First Day of November all Marriages shall be solemnized in the Presence of Two or more credible Witnesses, besides the Minister who shall celebrate the same; and that immediately after the Celebration of every Marriage an Entry thereof shall be made in the Register Book provided and kept for that Purpose as by Law is now directed, or as shall be hereafter directed; in which Entry or Register it shall be expressed that the said Marriage was celebrated by Banns or Licence, and if both or either of the Parties married by Licence be under Age, not being a Widower or Widow, with Consent of the Parents or Guardians, as the Case shall be; and such Entry shall be signed by the Minister with his proper Addition, and also by the Parties married, and attested by such Two Witnesses; which Entry shall be made in the Form or to the Effect following; that is to say,

 

XXIX. And be it further enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That if any Person shall, from and after the said First Day of November, with Intent elude the Force of this Act, knowingly and wilfully insert or cause to be inserted in the Register Book of such Parish or Chapelry as aforesaid any false Entry of any Matter or Thing relating to any Marriage; or falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit, or cause or procure to be falsely made, altered, forged or counterfeited, or act or assist in falsely making, altering, forging or counterfeiting any such Entry in such Register; or falsely make, alter, forge or counterfeit, or cause or procure to be falsely made, altered, forged or counterfeited, or assist in falsely making, altering, forging or counterfeiting any such Licence of Marriage as aforesaid; or utter or publish as true any such false, altered, forged or counterfeited Register as aforesaid, or a Copy thereof, or any such false, altered, forged or counterfeited Licence of Marriage, knowing such Register or Licence of Marriage respectively to be false, altered, forged or counterfeited ; or if any Person shall, from and after the said First Day of November, wilfully destroy, or cause or procure to be destroyed any Register Book of Marriages, or any Part of such Register Book, with Intent to avoid any Marriage, or to subject any Person to any of the Penalties of this Act ; every Person so offending,  and being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of Felony, and shall suffer the Punishment of Transportation for Life, according to the Laws in force for the Transportation of Felons.

XXX. Provided always, and be it enacted, That this Act, or any Thing there contained, shall not extend to the Marriages of any of the Royal Family.

XXXI. Provided likewise, and be it further enacted, That nothing in this Act contained shall extend to any Marriages amongst the People called Quakers, or amongst the Persons professing the Jewish Religion,  where both the Parties to any such Marriage shall be of the People called Quakers, or Persons professing the Jewish Religion respectively.

XXXII. And be it further enacted, That Two printed Copies of this Act shall, as soon a conveniently may be after the passing of this Act, be provided by His Majesty’s Printer, and transmitted to the Officiating Ministers of the several Parishes and Chapelries in England respectively; One of which Copies shall be deposited and kept with the Book containing the Marriage Register of such Parish or Chapelry, in the Chest or Box provided for the Custody of the same.

XXXIII. And be it further enacted, That this Act shall extend only to that Part of the United Kingdom called England.

 

 

 

 

 Copyright Guy Etchells ©  2005 All rights reserved.

Permission is granted for all free personal and non-commercial uses. It is my intention to make all data contained herein freely available for all private, non-profit and non-commercial uses. Commercial use of any portion contained herein is expressly prohibited.
Database Right, all databases on this website are covered by the 1997 Database Regulations
Guy Etchells is the maker of the database contained within and the owner of the database rights.
First published in 2005.

Return to Acts Index

 Errors

Return to Home Page