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Marriages with bride under 16

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Julie Report 12 Feb 2020 22:35

I am aware that in the 19th century it was quite legal for girls of 14 or 15 to marry. I have a case where 2 sisters married 2 brothers in the 1870's, one sister was 14 at the time, the other 15. The girls ages were recorded on marriage as over 16 and on subsequent census data the age of the ladies was recorded as higher than it actually was.
I am wondering how common this was and whether the misrecording of the ladies ages is an indication that, although legal, marriage at 14/15 was frowned upon at that time.


KathleenBell Report 13 Feb 2020 00:41

I'm not sure why they would say they were over 16 unless they actually said that they were 21 because even at 19 or 20 they would still have needed parental approval for the marriage.

It was actually legal for girls to marry at age 12 and boys at age 14 right up to 1927 although I don't know how often this actually happened.

Kath. x

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it

Shirley~I,m getting the hang of it Report 13 Feb 2020 06:42

My grt grandmother married aged 15 and her elder sister married at 16

Both have the right ages on the Certs

Great grandmother married a 21 year old

Her sister married a 19 year old

Neither appear to have been pregnant at the time of marriage so it was just young marriages


Julie Report 13 Feb 2020 08:49

In these cases the young ladies still showed themselves as under 21 when they married, but as 18 and 19. The daughters in this family seem to have married young as another was just turned 16 when she married.Interestingly, unless miscarriages happened, (and I have another later case where I know a 16 yr old was pregnant but had a miscarriage), only the 16yr old when expecting when she married.


SylviaInCanada Report 15 Feb 2020 03:51

My grandfather and grandmother said they were 20 and 21 respectively when they married in November 1902. Nope ........... he was about to turn 18 and she had just turned 19.

I've never understood why he didn't also say he was 21 because family were there!

She was pregnant at the time


mgnv Report 16 Feb 2020 15:12

Source -

Registrar General - 1861 - England
Twenty-fourth annual report of the registrar-general
Ages of 207388 persons married in 1861, distinguishing those of bachelors, spinsters, widowers, widows
Page 26

There were 163796 marrs in England/Wales in 1861.
In 63% of cases (103694 cases), both parties gave explicit ages.
The joint distribution of these ages is given at:

Brides: 24.2% were minors*, and 1.34% were 17 or younger - 35 had the youngest age - 15
Grooms: 9.2% were minors*, and 0.06% were 17 or younger - 10 had the youngest age - 16

*I have included 31 widows and 7 widowers (all aged 19 or 20) amongst the minors