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Gretna Green Marriage Registers

Wednesday, 2nd December, 2009

Gretna Green became the destination for eloping young lovers following the introduction of Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753. The law in England was changed so that anyone under the age of 21 had to have the consent of guardians or parents. There was no lower age limit but the marriage had to be celebrated in church, entered in the parish register and signed by both parties.

In Scotland, the minimum age limit had remained 16, so many young couples from England headed north for their weddings. As Gretna Green was on the London to Edinburgh stagecoach route and was the first stopping point across the border, many couples decided to marry there – often only just getting through the ceremony before their pursuers arrived.

The Gretna Green registers are not just simply a record of marriage but provide a view of forbidden love. Young couples who wanted to be together against all the odds. You can now search these registers at Ancestry.

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