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'If her friends and relations thinkes it fitt...': The role of family and kin throughout the life cycle of Early Modern elite marriage

Event type
Event dates
, 5:30PM - 7:30PM
Room 736, UCL Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL
Laura Charles (Nottingham Trent)
020 7862 8740

Discussing the marriage arrangements of one of his daughters in 1685, the Duke of Newcastle commented ‘If her friends and relations thinkes it fitt to marry her my Wife and I will not opose it’. Marriage during the Seventeenth Century was often subject to the interference of parents and other family members, particularly at an elite level. From the selection of potential partners to the negotiation of terms and dowries, marriage was a social drama involving family, peers and extended kin. This involvement however did not end once the couple was married, with family and kin continuing to have an active role throughout the entire life cycle of marriage. They could provide emotional support during times of conflict or grief, give advice to newly married couples, and even offer refuge in times of need. This involvement varied greatly and could be welcomed by the couple in question as useful advice or spurned as unsolicited interference. Through a case study approach of a network of elite families, this paper will examine the continuing role of family and kin throughout the life cycle of marriage as well as how such involvement was received.