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Social Life in Scotland
Chapter III. - Marriage Rites and Customs


OF marriage rites and customs in the earlier times no memorial exists. Prior to the introduction of Christianity, and even subsequently, notions respecting the obligations of marriage were crude and imperfect. There is no evidence that the early clergy were concerned in sanctioning the nuptial bond; nor can marriage, as an ecclesiastical office, be traced earlier than the eighth century, when the civil authorities recognised wedlock as solemnized by the Church.

The system of handfasting—that is, of a man and woman engaging to live together for the period of a year, being held free at its expiry, except they elected otherwise, was derived from a Celtic usage which still prevails in Wales under the name of bundling. The chronicler Lindsay of Pitscottie, in writing of Alexander Dunbar, son of James, sixth Earl of Moray, and Isobel Innes, remarks—"This Isobel was but handfast with him, and deceased before the marriage." When Queen Margaret Tudor sued for a divorce from the Earl of Angus, she pleaded that he had been handfasted to Jane Douglas, "who bare a child to him, and by reason of that pre-contract could not be her lawful husband." Divorce was granted by the Pope, but the child of the union between Angus and the Queen was declared legitimate.

In reporting to Sir John Sinclair's "Statistical Account," the minister of Eskdalemuir refers to the practice of handfasting having existed in his parish, under ecclesiastical sanction, at a period preceding the Reformation. At a fair held in the parish at the confluence of the Black and the White Esk rivers, unmarried men chose female companions with whom to be handfasted, and as the parish was under the supervision of the monks of Melrose, a priest of that monastery proceeded thither periodically in order to render these engagements permanent. As he carried in the breast pocket of his dress a copy of the marriage office, he was familiarly known as Book i' Bosom. In 1562 the Kirksession of Aberdeen decreed that persons living together under handfast contracts should forthwith be united in wedlock. Handfasting ceased about twenty years after the Reformation.

Though a system repugnant to social order was discontinued, the Scottish law of marriage yet remained in an unsatisfactory condition. While all persons who respected the social proprieties sought in contracting marriage the sanction of the Church, the union might otherwise be legally constituted. An acknowledgment by parties of being husband and wife, made whether by word or writing, and followed or preceded by their living together, was held as a valid marriage. But the General Assembly ruled, in 1563, that no contract of marriage made secretly, with subsequent cohabitation, should be recognised till the offenders, as "breakers of good order," submitted to discipline, and by "famous and unsuspect witnesses" the contract was verified.

Prior to the twelfth century the regular as well as the secular clergy practised matrimony. But the conduct of ecclesiastics in alienating to their children the lands of the Church induced David I. to prescribe celibacy to the priestly order. The rule was not strictly kept, nor were penalties for the violation enforced. From churchmen have descended Highland chiefs and lowland barons. MIacnab is the son of the abbot, Mactaggart the son of the priest, Macpherson the son of the parson, Macvicair son of the vicar, and MacClery the son of the clerk. These are traditional descents, but the children of notable churchmen are historically named. Cardinal Beaton, who had five children, openly gave one of his daughters in marriage to the eldest son of Lord Crawford. To the Cardinal's successor in the primacy, Archbishop Hamilton, were born three children. Bishop William Chisholm of Dunblane, who died in 1564, had a son and two daughters; one of the latter was wife of Sir James Stirling of Keir. Bishop William Gordon of Aberdeen acknowledged several children. To Bishop Patrick Hepburn were born eight sons and two daughters, who were in 1533 and 1545 publicly legitimated. Donald Campbell, abbot of Cupar, had five sons, to whom he granted lands which belonged to the monastery.

A marriage tax, known as the merchet was, under the feudal system, exacted by superiors from their vassals on the marriage of daughters. Proceeding on the principle that when daughters were given in wedlock, the overlord was deprived of their services, merchet was leviable alike by the baron from his bondmen, and from the baron by his sovereign. During the reigns of James VI. and Charles I. the merchet leviable from persons of opulence was granted by the crown to individuals in reward of service.

Matrimonial customs considerably varied. In betrothal, the parties usually moistened with the tongue the thumbs of their right hands, and then pressed them together. The violation of a contract so consecrated, was considered tantamount to an act of perjury. In northern counties silver coins were exchanged by plighted lovers. Writing about 1736, George Halket, schoolmaster of Rathen, Aberdeenshire, in his song of "Logie o' Buchan," represents the breaking of a sixpence between two lovers as constituting their love-pledge. His heroine sings--

I sit on my creepie, and spin at my wheel,
And think on the laddie that loe'd me sae weel,
He had but a'e sixpence—he brak' it in twa,
And he gie'd me the half o't when he gaed awa'."

As much sacredness was associated with any contract made across the channel of a running water, so plightinq troth across a stream became a mode of betrothal. In vowing mutual fidelity, Burns and Mary Campbell clasped hands across the Fail stream in the grounds of Coilsfield.

Betrothal among the Lowland peasantry was made without parental sanction, but immediately subsequent to the event, it was deemed proper that "the old folks" should be informed, and their countenance invoked. When, in the middle or upper ranks, an engagement was formed, the relatives of the parties assembled as a committee of ways and means. On such occasions convivialities were protracted. During the eighteenth century opulent persons provided a hogshead of claret to be used in arranging the contract. The subscribing of the contract was an occasion of further feasting.

Subsequent to the completion of the contract, the affianced parties were known as bridegroom and bride. To the bride were assigned two maidens as her attendants, while two male kinsmen, one from each side, were appointed as her protectors.

The "booking" of parties was an early ceremonial. In the Kirksession Register of Stirling, under the 7th June 1579, James Duncanson, "Reader," and "Notary Public," certifies that Archibald Alexander, brother of the laird of Menstrie, and Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Alexander, had appeared before him personally, and "bayth in ane voyce granted mutuall promeis of marriage, whereupon he admonished bayth "not to cohabit till the legal completion of the union; and further, that "they and their companies abstain fra all publict dansein and playeis in the gaitts of the burgh on the day of the marriage, under the paine of 10 lib. money." Archibald Allan became cautioner that the promise made by the parties would be fulfilled. A legal ceremonial enacted in presence of a notary having, in former times, been deemed sufficient to constitute the nuptial bond, the question was submitted to the General Assembly of 1575 as to whether the system of mutual declaration prior to publication of banns should be longer continued. The Assembly ruled that the names of parties desiring proclamation should he intimated simply. Thereafter arose the practice of two male friends of the parties waiting on the session-clerk, and, with their names, depositing the stipulated fee. Therewith was conjoined what was termed "laying doon the pawns"—that is, the making of a small consignment in guarantee that the marriage would be solemnized. In the parish of Ballingry, Fifeshire, the consignment was in 1670 fixed at two dollars. It was ruled by a kirksession in 1666 that "the pawn" or consignation money should "remain in the clerk's hand for the space of three quarters of a year after the marriage."

At the Reformation it was enacted by the General Assembly that all who wished to marry must submit their names to the minister or session-clerk for proclamation of banns on three successive Sundays. Subsequently it was permitted on payment of a larger fee that banns might be completed by one public announcement, the words "for the first, second, and third time" being added.

In times immediately subsequent to the Reformation forty clays were required to ensue between the time of "booking" and the day of marriage. During the interval the bride was supposed to receive no visitors save her relations and early friends. Young folks rubbed shoulders with the bride so as to obtain matrimonial infection.

A process of feet-washing was enacted. One or two evenings before the nuptial ceremony a party of the bridegroom's friends assembled at his dwelling. Into his spence or parlour they bore a washing-tub, with towels and soap. Volunteering to wash his feet as a respectful service the privilege was readily granted to them. But no sooner was the bridegroom's unclothed limbs plunged into the water than commenced a horrible saturnalia. The limbs were besmeared with grease and soot. Then were applied brushes of coarse bristle, and when the cleansing process was completed the besmearing was renewed. The merriment was protracted till both the performers and the bridegroom were utterly exhausted. Feasting followed at the bridegroom's cost.

On the morning of the wedding the bride was attired with ceremony. On such occasions ladies of rank personally decorated those who had served them. The lowliest bride was expected to be clad for marriage in garments wholly new. Her dress could not, with any regard to her happiness, be fitted on prior to the day of marriage, nor might it be altered then, though fitting imperfectly. In the sixteenth century a bride's dress was ordinarily valued at one hundred merks. A marriage was held to augur good fortune only when prior to the ceremony every knot in the apparel of both parties had been unloosed.

In the Highlands marriage was usually solemnized in church, and in the lowlands either in the residence of the bride's parents or at the parochial manse. When the marriage was about to be solemnized young men from the neighbouring farms assembled bearing firelocks, which, as a feu de joie, they discharged. In rural districts it was held that a bride should on her marriage day appear uncovered, but wear a cap ever afterwards. All declined to marry in May. Pennant relates that, in 1772, when he composed his work, the people of Perthshire avoided wedlock in January. The lowlander was averse to marrying on Friday, but the Highlander chose that day as the most hopeful. During the increase of the moon wedlock was in Orkney carefully eschewed.

In the Presbyterian Church there is no prescribed form of marriage; hence in performing the nuptial rite each clergyman adopts a style or method of his own. The ceremony is ordinarily commenced and closed by prayer, while, prior to the nuptial vow, are expressed words of earnest exhortation. But some clergymen omit exhortation, and are content to read to the parties selected passages of scripture.

A century ago, in the Highlands, the bride at the close of the nuptial ceremony walked round her party, saluting each with a kiss. Thereafter was passed among the company a small dish, in which each deposited a coin, the amount collected being handed to the bride to purchase some useful article for her new home. At the marriage of persons belonging to the middle and upper ranks, favours, consisting of portions of ribbon and lace, were attached to the bride's dress. After the ceremony all endeavoured to seize these, as matter of good luck. When the confusion had ceased, the bridegroom's attendant was expected to pull off the bride's garter; this she modestly dropped. Composed of white and silver ribbon, the garter was separated into portions, which were divided among the company.

After joining the company at the wedding breakfast, the bride and bridegroom left their friends amidst a noisy demonstration. The domestics had previously collected old shoes, with which they belabored the bridegroom as, with the bride on his arm, he proceeded to his carriage. To the bridegroom's attendant was assigned the duty of publicly notifying the marriage. In newspaper notices were formerly intimated the supposed amount of the bride's dowry, also a eulogy of her charms. The Edinburgh journals of September 1720, announced that the Earl of Wemyss was "married to the only child of Colonel Charteris, with a fortune of five hundred thousand pounds sterling, English money, which probably in a short time may be double that sum." "But," adds the flattering chronicler, "that is nothing at all in comparison of the young lady herself, who is truly for goodness, wit, beauty, and fine shapes, inferior to no lady of Great Britain." From the "Glasgow Journal" of the 24th March 1744, we have the following: "On Monday last, James Dennistoun, junior, of Colgreine, Esq., was married to Miss Jenny Baird, a beautiful young lady." "May 4, 1747. On Monday last, Dr Robert Hamilton, Professor of Anatomy and Botany in the University of Glasgow, was married to Miss Molly Baird, a beautiful young lady, with a handsome fortune." "August 3, 1747. On Monday last, Mr James Johnstone, merchant in this place, was married to Miss Peggy Norvall, an agreeable young lady, with 4000." From the "Aberdeen Journal
of 1750 we have the following: "Yesternight was married here, Mr Walter Cochran, Depute Town-Clerk, to Miss Nelly Udney, daughter to James Udney, advocate, a young lady of distinguished merit and virtue." "Last Tuesday, Alex. Aberdein, of Cairnbulg, late Provost of this city, was married at Montrose, to Miss Nelly Carnegie, sister to Sir James Carnegie of Pitarrow, a young lady of celebrated beauty and distinguished merit." In the same journal in 1755, a bride is described as "of distinguished beauty and superlative merit."

In rural districts marriage feasting was substituted for that merry-making which in pre-Reformation times had been associated with saints' anniversaries and other holidays. 'Till early in the present century a practice associated with marriage, styled winning the broose, obtained widely. Immediately after the marriage ceremony young persons in the company, who valued themselves on their agility, set out on a foot race from the bride's dwelling to the residence of the bridegroom. When the distance was considerable the competitors were mounted. In the Glasgow Courier of the 16th January 1813, it is set forth that at a broose tournament which on the 29th March took place at Mauchline, one of the competitors, a female, after a ride of thirteen miles, won the broose over four males who contested with her. The heroine, Jean Wyllie, survived to the age of 102; she passed away while these sheets were preparing for press. The broose was a nominal prize, consisting simply of a dish of brose or soup.

Marriage feasts, styled "penny bridals," were so designated, consequent on a contribution of one shilling Scots, equal to one penny sterling, being made by each of the neighbours towards the entertainment. During the eighteenth century neighbours contributed in ample fashion. Landowners supplied joints of venison, beef, and mutton ; farmers sent poultry and dairy produce, and the minister and schoolmaster gave in loan culinary utensils. The bride's parents were understood to supply one dish, the bride's pie, and every guest was expected to partake of it.

In Highland districts, the bride, attended by her maidens and two male kinsmen, constituting her body guard, proceeded some days prior to the wedding to the dwellings of her friends to invite them to the celebration.

Bridal feasts were conducted with no inconsiderable formality. Into the place of banqueting the bride and her party walked first, at the sound of lively music. Next entered the bridegroom and his friends, who were also received with musical demonstrations. The general company followed up, the women in pairs, then the men in the order of seniority.

Not infrequently one hundred persons would assemble to a wedding feast. The bridal pair occupied the head of the board. Of the guests some were accommodated at the table; others sat on logs or beams of timber resting upon stones. To each was in the first instance handed a horn spoon with a cog of kail or broth. Next was served hotch-potch; next a lump of flesh or fowl. Last was ate the bride's pie. But the fare varied. In describing a rural bridal, the poet, Francis Semple, proceeds:-

"There'll be lang-kale and pottage,
And bannocks o' barley meal,
And there'll be good saut herrin'
To relish a cogue of gude yill

"There'll be tarten, dragon, and bracken,
An' fouth o' guid gabbocks o' skate.
Powsoudie and drammock an' crowdie,
An' callar nowt-feet on a plate;

"An' there'll be meal-kail, an' castocks,
Wi' skink to sup till ye rive;
An' roasts to roast on a brander,
Of flouks that were taken alive."

Dancing, when the weather permitted, was conducted upon the green. The first reel was danced by the newly-married pair; next on the floor were the bride's maidens and her male body guard. When all had danced the company returned to the banqueting room, where supper was served. It usually consisted of cheese and bannocks, ale and whisky. By the younger guests dancing was resumed. The concluding diversion was a dance, called "Bab at the Bowster." It was begun by one of the unmarried guests, who, taking a cushion in his hand, danced round the room and at the end of the tune placed the cushion before one of the opposite sex, who, kneeling upon it, was saluted by the dancer. The party then took up the cushion, when both danced together. It was continued till all the unmarried portion of the company had shared in it.

Marriage festivities were in certain districts continued for several days. Within the course of the present century the merry-making and jollities were prolonged from the day of marriage to the close of the week. During the interval the nuptial party made visits to the neighbours of their own rank, and perambulated the district, accompanied by a piper and other mirthful attendants.

By Captain Burt we are informed that early in the eighteenth century, on the evening which followed a marriage, the company present at the ceremony, took possession of the bridegroom's dwelling, sending him and his wife to the barn or outhouse, there to remain for the night upon straw or heath.

In some districts of the Highlands, a century ago, a portion of the guests were permitted to enter the nuptial chamber. To the bridegroom was handed a wine glass, of which he drank the contents, bidding his visitors good-night. The stocking of the bride's left foot was then tossed into the air, the person near whom it fell being thereby augured as the next to wed. In the morning the married pair were awakened early to hold a levee of their friends and receive congratulations.

Creeling the bridegroom was during the last century practised in Berwickshire. Early on the morning after marriage there was strapped to the bridegroom's back a basket of stones or gravel, and a large-handled broom laid on his left shoulder. Thus equipped, he was forced to run fleetly, while, the bride was expected to follow and to disengage him of his burden.

By sundry rites was the newly married wife welcomed to her home. At the threshold was held over her a sieve containing bread and cheese, and as she entered the dwelling there was broken upon her head the infar-cake, a cake of shortbread specially prepared, while all joined in the song,

"Welcome to your ain fireside,
Health and wealth attend the bride
Wanters noo your true weird make,
Joes are spaed by th' infar-cake."

This custom of the infar-cake had its origin in the rite of confarreation whereby the Romans constituted matrimony by causing the contracting parties to eat together of a salted cake, or a portion of wheaten bread which had been consecrated. Portions of the infar-cake were distributed among the young of both sexes. The bride's welcome was completed when she had received the fire-tongs, and with a long broom had swept the hearth.

While emphatically maintaining the non-sacramental character of the nuptial rite, Scottish Reformers were desirous that a religious solemnity should be associated with the event of marriage. By the twenty-second General Assembly, held in March 1571, it was ruled "that all marriages be made solemnly in the face of a congregation," and the practice was to celebrate the union at the close of the morning service. For the accommodation of persons contracting matrimony, a special pew was provided, into which the parties were ceremoniously conducted, by the church officer. In May 1674 the Kirksession of Dunfermline ordained that "if brides and bridegrooms come not into the kirk, before the first psalm be closed, they shall pay twelve shillings or more as the minister shall please."

In order to check the unseemly disturbances which followed Sunday marriages at St Andrews, the Kirk-session of that parish, on the 13th September 1570, "ordainit ane supplication to be directed to the magistrates for reformation of the grete abuse unit be new mereit persons in violation of the Sabbat day, and in special that the day of their marriage afterwise they resort not to hering of the doctrine, and at evin after supper, insoleutlie, in evil example of uthers, perturbis the town withal ryuning thairthrow in minstraly and harlotry." Similar irregularities in connection with Sunday marriages occurred in other places, hence, on the subject being considered by the General Assembly of 1579, it was ruled that if a sufficient number of witnesses were present, parties might be married on any day of the week. A deliverance by the General Assembly of 1581 prohibiting the celebration of marriages in private houses, led the Kirksession of St Andrews to enact, on the 4th November 1584, that all seeking marriage, "baith riche and pair, be contractit in the counsallhous" on Wednesday of every week, and " in na uther place." By the Kirksession of Ahercromby, it was ruled in 1630 that none shall be married on the Sabbath except they pay to the use of the poor 58s., and oblige themselves to keep good order.

The suppression of nuptial festivities, usually attended with disorderly proceedings might not readily be accomplished. In November 1583, the Kirk-session of Glasgow decreed that there should be no superfluous gatherings at bridals, and that the lawin, or cost of the dinner or supper, should not exceed "eighteen pennies." While permitting a law-in of five shillings, the Kirksession of Stirling, in 1599, decreed that no marriages should be solemnized unless the pal-ties have in pledge four pounds, that no greater cost would be incurred. To elude clerical surveillance the inhabitants of Stirling celebrated their nuptial festivities under tents in the fields. To overcome, this subterfuge, the Kirksession and Town Council of Stirling issued a joint deliverance, in these terms "December 1, 1608. The brethren of the kirk ratifies the Act of Counsell underwritten anent brydellis, and ordaris that na testimonial be given but according thairto in all points. The quhilk day the Counsell statutes and ordaines that all and quhatsunievir persones dwell and within this burgh or parrochin, quha sal happin to be proclaimit for marriage contractit betwix thanne, still mak thair brydellis and banquittis within this burgh, fra thyncefurth; and if thaye fealye, being proclaimit within the paroche kirk of this burgh be the ministeris thairof, and mak their brydellis outwith the said burgh, in that caice the partie or parties that sal happin to contravein, sal pay to the towne the sume of twenty poundis money, provyding alwayes that this act be onelie extendit against the men and women qulha sal happin to be joyned in marriage, bayth dwelland within this burgle or parochin thairof. And if ony persone dwelland within this burgh marie an outland woman, in that caice it is statute and ordainit that it sall not be lessum to him to desyr any ma persones, nychtbouris of this burgh nor twenty persones; and if it be fund or tryed that he dois in the contrar, in that caice he sall pay to the towne the summe of ten poundis; and willis that the kirk, befoir they grant testimonials tak ane pund thairfor. Lykes if any outland man marie any woman dwelland within this burgle, and if the woman contravein thairanent, in that caice sall pay uther twenty pundis; and that befoir any testimoniall be granted be the minister or reader, or yet hefoir marriage be solemnizit that they take ane pund for the said soume."

Stringent as this enactment was it proved practically inoperative, for in 1614 we find the Kirksession of Stirling issuing a decree that the marriage rite be celebrated only in church, after divine service, and that all merry-making of every kind should wholly cease.

On the 9th April 1646, the Kirksession of St Cuthbert's ordained that, under a penalty of ten pounds, couples should not invite to their weddings more than twenty-four persons. And in 1647 the Presbyteries of Haddington and Dunbar denounced bridal feasts as "seminaries of all profanation," restricting the attendance at each wedding to twenty persons. At Dumfries it was, in July 1657, ruled by the Town Council, "that not more than twenty-four persons assemble at a wedding, and that the expense do not exceed eight pounds, and that under the payne of twenty punds, whereof the one half is to be payt by the bridegroom, and the other half by the inkiepar quhar the brydle is kept."

The existence of dancing at marriage feasts was a chief reason why the Church was so persistently opposed to them. The ancient dances were unseemly, while the gyrations introduced at the court of Queen Mary, and which became common, were by the sober-minded regarded with absolute aversion. In 1599 the Kirksession of St Andrews dealt with David Wemyss in Raderny, for being present at a dance. He acknowledged that he had but justified himself by saying that "he never saw that dancing was stayit (stopped) before, and that the custom was kept at Raderny before any of the Session was born." Wemyss was imprisoned in the church steeple for contumacy; he latterly submitted himself. In May 1649, the General Assembly "inhibited dancing," and referred "the censure thereof to the care and diligence" of Presbyteries. On the 8th February 1628, "William Wallace, pyper," was sentenced by the Kirksession of St Cuthbert's "to stand one day upon the pillar and therafter to remove furth of the parochin, ay and untill he be ane renewit man of his maneris; and get leif of the Presbyterie to returne, after they see amendment in his lyf and conversatioun." For "pyping at bridals," Adam Moffat, piper, was, by the Kirksession of Ashkirk on the 16th November 1638, ordained "the next Sabbath to stand at the kirk door with ane pair of scheittis (sleets) about him, beirfutt and beirlegitt, and efter the pepill wes in, to go to the place of repentance, and so to continew Sabbathlie induring their willis." In September 1649 the Kirksession of Cambusnethan enacted that "there sould be no pypers at brydells, and whoever sould have a pyper playing at their brydell on their marriage day, sall lose their consigned money, and be furder punished as the Session thinks fitt." The Kirksession of Mouswald, on the 23rd December 1658, "requyrit John Wright, pyper, to stand twa dayes in the publick place of repentance, and to pay the penaltic of 20 lib., or utherwayes give over his pyping."

In 1677, the Presbytery of Garioch prohibited at bridals "all promiscuous dancing," and enjoined "that the roaster of the feast lay down two dollars in pledge that if there be anie abuse be any persons the bridegroom and bryde bath not invited, the master of the feast his pledge sall fael, and anie abuse committed be anie person invited be either of the parties, then they sall pay for it."

One of the latest of kirksession decrees against bridal festivities was made at Hawick in 1703, when John Hart, one of the elders, was summoned for "making a penny-brydall at his daughter Christian's marriage, which ended in scolding and fliteing." Hart was reminded that "such meetings had been laid aside this twelve months," and were contrary to the Acts of Assembly and the laws of the kingdom, whereupon he "upon his knees acknowledged his guilt," and "prayer was made to God for him to grant him repentance and pardon for what he had done, tending to revive the cursed custom of penny bryddels."

The privilege of marrying was, by the Church, bounded by certain restraints. On the 7th July 1578, the Kirksession of Perth, considering that those who "give up their banns of marriage are almost altogether ignorant and misknow the causes why they should marry, ordained all to compear before the reader to be instructed in the true knowledge of the causes of marriage." In August 1579, the Kirk-session of St Andrews decreed that "nane be resaivit to compleit the, bond of matrimony without they reherse to the redar the Lord's Prayer, the Beleive, and the Commandments."

Persons labouring under financial difficulties were not allowed to marry. On the 28th January 1594, the Presbytery of Glasgow decreed that "in respect that James Annan is in greit dett, tharefor can nocht ordein Helen Bar to be mareit upone him."

The right of controlling matrimonial concerns was by the Church strictly asserted. In the parish register of the Canongate there are three entries relative to Queen Mary's marriage with Lord Darnley. In the first entry permission for celebrating the banns is thus set forth: "The 21 of Julij, anno Domini 1565. The quhilk day Johne Brand, mynister, presentit to the kirk ane writting, written be the Justice Clark hand, desyring the kirk of the cannongait and mynister thairof to proclame Harie, Duk of Abbynye, erle of Rois, etc., on the one part, and Marie, be the grace of God qvene Souerane of this realme on the vther part. The quhilk the kirk ordanis the mynister so to do with inwocation of the name of God." Next follows an entry of the banns being published--thus: "Henry, Duk of Albany, erll of Rois; Marie, be the grace of God, quen souerane of this realme. Married in the chappell." The Queen's marriage is attested by a further entry in these words: "The 29 day of Julij anno 1565, Henry and Marie, Kyng and Qwrezie of Scottis." When on Darnley's assassination, the Earl of Bothwell sought to have his banns of marriage with the Queen published in the Canongaite church, he was rigorously questioned by the minister, Mr John Craig. And inasmuch as he answered unsatisfactorily, Mr Craig, in publishing the banns, "took heaven and earth to witness that he abhorred and detested that marriage, because it was odious and sclanderous to the world."

Though allowing without comment the Queen's marriage with Lord Darnley in the Chapel Royal of Holyrood, the Kirksession of the Canon gate refused to sanction the chapel for the ordinary celebration of the nuptial rite. In September 1566, they resolved that "they would na wayes authoris any thing that is done in that idolatrie chappell, contrare to God and his word." The chapel so denounced has long since disappeared. The Abbey Church of Holyrood was for many years subsequent to the Reformation the church of Canongate parish.

In 1579 the General Assembly ordained that any marriage performed by a "Popish priest," without proclamation of banns, should be regarded as null, while a rule obtained denying banns to those who cherished the Romish faith. In 1588, the Presbytery of Edinburgh allowed the banns of George, Earl of Huntly, to be published on condition that he subscribed the articles of religion. It was further stipulated that before the celebration of his marriage, the Earl would accept the doctrines of the Confession of Faith.

Marriage rites performed by Roman Catholic priests or by clergymen of the Episcopal communion were equally disallowed. On the 26th April 1718, the Kirksession of Crathie summoned before them Donald Gordon and Alexander Shaw, for "marrying Popish wives," and further, for being "irregularly married by a priest," and thereafter consulted the Presbytery as to the mode of dealing with them. Before the, Kirksession of Eaglesham, in 1724, were summoned Robert Watson and Margaret Stewart, for having their marriage solemnized by an Episcopal clergyman. The parties, by command of the Presbytery, had to appear as penitents in the parish church. By the Kirksession of Colinton, near Edinburgh, in 1726 and subsequent years, married couples were frequently sentenced to public rebuke "for breaking the established order of the Church," in being married by Episcopal clergymen.

Matrimonial alliances with the sister country were openly discouraged. In 1639, an overture was adopted by the General Assembly, "for restraining people from passing into England to marry," and Parliament was invoked "to appoint a pecunial sum to be paid by the contraveners." No native of Scotland might wed an English spouse without rebuke. By the Presbytery of Lanark, on the 28th June 1655, baptism was refused to the child of Marian Somerell, inasmuch that "contrarie to the Acts of the kirke of Scotland," she had "married ane Inglishman." The Presbytery at length agreed to grant baptism on the woman making public satisfaction, and her husband giving promise that he would bring up the child "according to the Confession of Faith."

Clandestine marriages were especially obnoxious. It was ruled by Parliament in 1661, that "whatsoever person or persons shall hereafter marry, or procure themselves to be married, in a clandestine and in-orderly way, or by Jesuit priests, or any other not authorised by this kirk, shall be imprisoned for three months; and beside their said imprisonment, shall pay, each nobleman, one thousand pounds Scots; each baron and landed gentleman, one thousand merks; each gentleman and burgess, five hundred pounds; each other person, one hundred merks, and shall remain in prison ay, and until they make payment of these respective penalties." To this statute it is added, "The celebrator of such marriage shall be banished, and never again to return under pain of death."

For the convenience of mariners, the provision as to a forty days' settlement being essential to the publication of banns, was relaxed at the seaports. This indulgence led to much irregularity. Portpatrick marriages became notorious. To that place proceeded many persons from Ireland who, in their own country, could not be united in wedlock unless under circumstances of inconvenient publicity. At Portpatrick no obstacle intervened. The session-clerk, on receiving the fee of one 'guinea, entered the village church and there proclaimed the banns. That which was irregularly begun, the parochial clergyman irregularly completed, and the parties were within an hour back to their ship, bearing a marriage certificate. For his part of the service the clergyman latterly received a fee of ten pounds. In 1S26, Portpatrick marriages were prohibited by the Church. Within the preceding fifty years thirteen noblemen had been united by the Portpatrick system; their names are recorded in the parish register.

Rutherglen marriages had local fame. At Rutherglen, persons who desired to contract marriage without the cost of banns, waited on the Town-clerk, and tendered five shillings as a penalty for being married without proclamation, the receipt for the fine being held as a certification of marriage.

The ower bogie, or half mark marriages, as they were familiarly called, had noted headquarters at Coldstream on the Tweed, and at Gretna Green, upon the Solway. At these places as on Scottish soil, natives of England, who desired to marry without consent, could accomplish their purpose by simply declaring that they were spouses. Most runaways chose Gretna, for there one or two persons were constantly at hand with printed forms, which could hastily be filled up. Large fees were expected, and by these, the unworthy performers became rich. Robert Elliot, the last of the so-called "Border priests," published a book entitled "The Gretna Green Memoirs," in which he sets forth that between the years 1811 and 1839, no fewer than 7744 persons were married by his certificates. Elliot adopted a form or ritual founded upon the marriage office of the English Church. [An interesting narrative respecting Gretna Green marriages will be found in Mr Andrews' Historical Romance. Lond., 1883, 12mo, pp. 131-9.]

The brave irregularities which attended Border marriages at length evoked Parliamentary interference. Accordingly, on the 29th July 1856, it was enacted "that no irregular marriage contracted in Scotland by declaration, acknowledgment, or ceremony, shall be valid, unless one of the parties had, at the date thereof, his or her usual place of residence there, and had lived in Scotland for twenty-one days next preceding such marriage." By this simple provision Border marriages were suppressed.

Consequent on the large dissent from the Established Church, also from other causes, it was felt that the only mode of initiating regular marriages in Scotland, via., by proclamation of banns in the parish church ought to be relieved by some other alternative. Accordingly on the 8th August 1875, a statute was passed, which provided that banns might be dispensed with, if the names of parties intending to contract matrimony were exhibited for seven consecutive days at the office of the parish registrar. By the statute anyone who has resided in a particular parish for fifteen days is held to have obtained a legal settlement. The registering of marriages is provided for by the General Registration Act, passed on the 7th August 1854. This Act stipulates that a schedule of marriage signed by the contracting parties, the presiding clergyman, and two witnesses, must be deposited with the parish registrar within three days after the celebration.

It was, in 1600, ruled by the General Assembly that no minister should unite in matrimony any couple in which the male was under fourteen, and the female under twelve years of age. Yet deviations from this rule are to be remarked. Mary Countess of Buccleuch was, on the 9th February 1659, in her eleventh year, married to Walter Scott of Highchester, of the age of fourteen. The marriage of heiresses under the age of twelve was not infrequent in the seventeenth century, guardians pleading in defence that they apprehended the abduction of their wards. So recently as the 1st June 1859 was married at 15 St James Square, Edinburgh, a girl, who was entered by the registrar as in her eleventh year. In examining the return the official inspector suspected error, but on inquiry being instituted, the entry was found to be correct.

By an Act of Assembly passed in 1565, it was ruled that every minister who celebrated a marriage without the proclamation of banns would be liable to censure. Not long afterwards one of the most zealous and exemplary of the reformed clergy was guilty of the offence. This was John Row, minister of Perth, who, at the request of his Kirksession, more especially of the Provost of the city, Lord Ruthven, afterwards Earl of Cowrie, united in marriage, without banns, David Lindsay, afterwards ninth Earl of Crawford, and Lilias, third daughter of David, second Lord Drummond. The marriage was celebrated by Row on the 12th February 1572-3, at the evening prayer meeting. On the 6th March thereafter he was censured for his irregularity by the General Assembly. When episcopal rule obtained in the Church, a bishop's license was occasionally substituted for publication of banns. Rather than marry on episcopal authority, some of the clergy celebrated marriage without either banns or license.

From the parish register of Ballingry, Fife, we have the following:— "April 18, 1635. Was contracted Alexander Dick and Margaret Betson, both in this parish—the man aged eighty, the woman twenty." In his "History of Banff," our late correspondent, James Imlach, states that his grandfather, who died at the age of ninety-six, married his second wife when he was ninety-two.

A few illustrations of curious connections formed by marriage may be added. John Knox was twice married. His first wife, Marjory Bowes, was daughter of Captain Bowes, a recreant Romanist; his second wife, Margaret Stewart, daughter of Lord Ochiltree, was a relative of Queen Mary. Donald Cargill, the great Covenanter, who died a martyr to his principles, married Margaret Browne, a widow, whose former husband, Andrew Bethune of Blebo, was a relative of Cardinal Beaton or Bethune. Mrs Cargill died on the 12th August 1656.

Major John Colt, deputy-governor of Edinburgh Castle, who was noted for his piety, espoused in October 1693, Anna Knot, of the family which had produced the founder of Scottish Presbytery ; secondly, in September 1706, Mary, sister of Principal William Carstares, through whose counsel Scottish Presbytery was restored.

Dr Alexander Webster, of the Tolbooth Church, Edinburgh, founder of the Ministers' Widows Fund, and a zealous upholder of the National establishment, was, through his sister Mary, brother-in-law of Ebenezer Erskine, who founded the Secession Church.

In the parish register of Muthill is the following entry:----"Sunday, Oct. 25, 1691. Contracted William Gloag and Janet Seatoun, both in this parroch, their pledges ane leg. [legal] dollar. Were proclaimed, pro primo." Janet Seatoun died early, leaving a daughter, who about her fifteenth year, experienced from her father's second wife much oppression. Daughter of a crofter, Miss Gloag was unwilling to enter domestic service; she preferred to emigrate. But the vessel in which she sought to reach America was seized by pirates, who carried passengers and crew to the African coast. Thrown into slavery, Miss Gloag was conveyed to Morocco, where she was married by the Emperor and so became Empress. On the death of the emperor, a relative of the royal house sought to dispossess her sons, and on their behalf, as descended from a British mother, the aid of the British Government was invoked. The claim was admitted, and a small fleet was being fitted out at Gibraltar for their defence, when intelligence reached that, by the usurper, they had been slain.


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