Making the Gretna blacksmith redundant: who worried, who spoke, who was heard on the abolition of irregular marriage in Scotland?

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    Abstract

    Scotland took its time in abolishing irregular marriage. While the Roman Catholic Church stopped recognising irregular forms in 1563, and England followed suit two hundred years later with Lord Hardwicke's Act of 1753, Scotland retained the medieval canon law of irregular marriage until 1940. This article exposes the various interests lobbying for reform of the law of formation of marriage in Scotland during the 1920s and 1930s and the assertions and arguments they employed and reveals the main factors which resulted in the success of this lobbying at this particular point in time: the influence and attitutde of the Church of Scotland, and, echoing the scandal of Fleet marriages in England before the 1753 Act, the availability of circumstances at Gretna Green which could be portrayed as a scandal.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-52
    Number of pages30
    JournalJournal of Legal History
    Volume30
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009

    Keywords

    • Family law
    • Legal history
    • Marriage ceremony
    • Scotland

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