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The ninth Year of George II.

A.D. 1735

Chap. XI.

An act for the more effectual preventing clandestine Marriages.


Whereas the several laws made to prevent clandestine marriages have proved ineffectual; and notwithstanding the penalties laid on those, who celebrate such marriages, many persons under age who are intitled to considerable fortunes, are frequently married without the consent of their parents or guardians to the great prejudice of many families; and protestants frequently intermarrying with papists, whereby the popish interest and religion are increased and propagated: for remedy thereof 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 twenty fifth day of March, which will be in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty seven, all marriages and matrimonial contracts where either of the parties are under the age of twenty one years, had without the consent of the father (if living) in writing under his hand first had and obtained, or, if dead, of the guardian had and obtained in the same manner, or of the lord chancellor or keeper of the great seal, in case no guardian be appointed, shall be absolutely null and void to all intents and purposes whatsoever, and shall not be deemed, adjudged, or construed by any spiritual court as contracts or marriages, if either of the parties marrying or contracting marriage without such consent, and being under the age of twenty one years, be intitled to any real estate of the value of one hundred pounds per annum, or to any personal estate to the value of five hundred pounds, or if the father or mother of such party so marrying under age be in possession of any real estate of the value of one hundred pounds per annum, or of any personal estate of the value of two thousand pounds.

II. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twenty fifth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty seven it shall and may be lawful for the father or guardian of any person, who shall marry or be contracted in marriage when under the age of twenty one years, or, if there be no father or guardian, for any person or persons to be appointed by the lord chancellor or the lord keeper of the great seal for that purpose, to commence a suit in the proper ecclesiastical court in order to disannul such marriage or matrimonial contract; which suit, when


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commenced, shall be prosecuted with effect; and if it appears in the said suit by proper proof, that either of the parties so marrying, or contracting to marry, was at the time of such marriage or matrimonial contract under the age of one and twenty years, such marriage or matrimonial contract shall be declared and adjudged by the ecclesiastical court, where such suit is commenced, to be absolutely null and void to all intents and purposes.

III. Provided always, That if no such suit be commenced within one year after the solemnization of such marriage, or the making of such matrimonial contract, such marriage or matrimonial contract shall from the expiration of the said year be good and valid to all intents and purposes, as if this act had never been made; any thing herein before contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twenty fifth day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty seven if any person of the full age of one and twenty years shall marry, or contract to marry, any person under the said age without such consent as aforesaid, such person being of full age, so marrying or contracting to marry a person under the said age, shall forfeit the sum of five hundred pounds, in case the person so married or contracted to be married, when under the age of one and twenty years, shall be possessed of or intitled unto real or personal estate of the value of ten thousand pounds; but in case the person so married, or contracted to be married, when under the age of one and twenty years shall not be possessed of or intitled unto real or personal estate of the value of ten thousand pounds, then the person being of full age, and so marrying or contracting to marry a person under the said age, shall forfeit only the sum of two hundred pounds; which said respective sums shall be recovered by bill, plaint, or information, in any of his Majesty's courts of record; and one moiety of the said forfeitures shall be to the use of his Majesty, and the other moiety to the use of him, her, or them, who shall sue for the same; and if any person being of full age shall be legally convicted in any such suit of marrying or contracting to marry a person under the said age of twenty one years, such person so convicted shall likewise be imprisoned in the common goal of the county or place, where such offence is committed, for the space of one year without bail or mainprize.

V. Provided always, That no such forfeiture or penalty shall be incurred, unless the prosecution be commenced within one year after the fact committed.


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VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twenty fifth day of March one thousand seven hundred and thirty seven no minister shall knowingly in any church or chappel, where divine service is celebrated according to the usage of the church of Ireland, publish the banns of matrimony between any persons, whereof one is of the protestant and the other of the popish religion, nor without a certificate from the three credible persons of the parish or parishes where such banns are published, that the parties so intending to marry are both of the protestant, or both of the popish, religion; and every minister offending herein shall be liable to such ecclesiastical censure as he would have been by the ecclesiastical laws of this kingdom for celebrating a clandestine marriage.

VII. Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to lessen or take away any of the penalties or disabilities inflicted against any persons, who contract, celebrate, or are present at any clandestine marriage, by virtue of any of the laws or statutes now in force in this kingdom; any thing herein contained to the contrary thereof in any wise notwithstanding.

VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That this act shall be publickly read four times in the year in all parish churches, and all publick chappels, and other places of publick worship, by the parson, vicar, or curate of the respective parishes or chappels immediately after the morning prayers on four several Sundays: (that is to say) upon Sunday next after the fifth of May in the year one thousand seven hundred and thirty six, upon the Sunday next after the fifth day in August, upon the Sunday next after the fifth day of November, and upon the Sunday next after the fifth day of February next ensuing, and upon the same days in every following year, on pain of five pounds for every such omission or neglect; the said penalty to go to such person as shall first sue for the same by bill, plaint, or information, or by civil bill.

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