In April, I’m posting 26 blogs, one for every letter of the alphabet. I write historical romance set in Regency England, and I’m offering a brief lexicon of words to help you understand the story world of my Regency characters. Follow the links for more in depth information.
S is for the Season:
Aristocratic families left their country homes and went up to town every spring for the Season. Socializing, networking with peers, arranging marriages, all were part and parcel of the true reason for the Season: the political gathering of the lords who ruled England.
Parliament convened in January and sat until the summer, when hunting season began.
And S is for Special License:
Marriage in England was a relatively loose business until the Marriage Act of 1753, known as the Hardwicke Act. Prior to the act, clandestine and bigamous marriages were not uncommon. For fans of nonfiction, Birthright, The True Story That Inspired Kidnapped, by A. Roger Ekirch, covers in depth one such pre Hardwicke Act case of bigamy.
After 1753, couples in England could only marry by the publishing of church banns (announcement of the proposed wedding in the local church), or by license, and the marriage had to take place in an Anglican church after a prescribed waiting period. The only exception to the rule of a waiting period and church wedding was if the couple obtained a Special License from Doctor’s Commons.
When I first saw this term used in a Regency novel I could not understand how a medical practitioner could be involved in issuance of a marriage license. Silly me! The full title of this Special License issuing body is
College of Doctors of Law exercent in the Ecclesiastical and Admiralty Courts.
Where marriage was concerned, civil law tied in with canon law, and these Doctors of Law worked under the purview of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In any case, with a Special License, our hero and heroine can marry without waiting, and in the comfort and privacy of their own home.
Questions? Comments? Visit tomorrow for the letter T!
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