The following announcement was written by Findmypast:
There are more than 1.5 million new records and newspaper articles available to search this Findmypast Friday, including;
Did your ancestor have a clandestine or irregular marriage ceremony? Explore over 881,000 clandestine marriage records covering the years 1667 to 1775 to find out. Each result will provide you with a transcript along with an image of the original hand-written record. Records will reveal a combination of the couple’s names, marital conditions, occupations and residences.
This collection originates from The National Archives’ Register General (RG) series 7 and pertains to marriages performed outside of the Anglican Church. Until Hardwick’s Law of 1754, the laws around marriage ceremonies were lax. While marriage was technically required to take place in an Anglican church, those performed outside such a church were still recognised and categorised as common law marriages.
There are a number of reasons why individuals would have participated in these ceremonies. The couple may have wanted to be married in secret and away from their home. There may have been a reason that the marriage needed to be performed quickly. A clandestine marriage also cost far less than a traditional wedding. However, not all reasons were innocent, and the courtrooms heard many cases of people coerced or forced into a marriage or cases of bigamy. At this time, the age required for marriage was 14 for men and 12 for women.