Speaker: Jeanette Holt (Royal Holloway)
Unequal marriages were roundly condemned in early eighteenth-century newspapers, magazines and commentaries. Wide differences in social status, finance or age raised eyebrows and could even be regarded as scandalous. But how common was marriage across social divides and how was it measured and perceived by contemporaries? With a focus on the lower social levels as well as the well-recorded aristocracy, this paper contributes to the debate about the prevalence of social mobility in marriage by analysing marriages across three London parishes. Statistics generated from a database populated with information from multiple sources provide evidence of social mobility in marriage and how this was impacted by the Clandestine Marriages Act of 1753. Clandestine marriage and religion are discussed in addition to print culture factors that influenced the behaviour of people across the social spectrum at the point of marriage.
IHR Seminar Series: British History in the Long 18th Century