Scotland remained unaffected by Hardwick’s Marriage Act of 1753 (see our article on clandestine marriage in the February 2014 issue). Here, for a marriage to be deemed 'regular’ it merely required the ceremony to be carried out by an ordained minister, and to be preceded by proclamation or banns. Parental permission was not required, girls as young as 12 and boys of 14 could legally marry without it. This rule remained in force until 1939, when the age of consent was raised to 16 for both sexes. Nor was it a requirement for the couple to marry in a church. It was not uncommon for the ceremony to be carried out in the bride’s home, or the parish manse.
In the early days of the railways, everything connected to railways – building and working on them, walking by or crossing them, getting into and travelling on them, even waiting patiently at the station – was fraught with danger. Indeed, it can be said that death and injury on 19th-century British railways occurred so regularly – almost daily in earliest times – as to be regarded as commonplace. So commonplace, in fact, that they offered an entrepreneurial opportunity in the guise of The Railway Passengers’ Assurance Company. While ‘life assurance’ had been around for quite some time, assurance for accidents was unheard of. The Universal Railway Casualty Compensation Company was the brainwave of solicitor HF Holt after a conversation with his clerk. He declared his intention of creating a company, in November 1848, in an advertisement stating, “… for the purpose of insuring the lives of persons travelling in Great Britain and Ireland, against Accidents on Railways and for affording compensation for injuries sustained by such accidents…” The company was officially started in December 1848, and was known only for three days under this initial name, thereafter it became The Railway Passengers Assurance Company.
Behold Regent Street at two p.m… Not without reason do I declare it the most fashionable street in the world…Regent Street is an avenue of superfluities – a great trunk road in Vanity Fair. Fancy watchmakers, haberdashers, and photographers; fancy stationers, fancy hosiers, and fancy staymakers; music shops, shawl shops, jewellers, French glove shops, perfumery, and point lace shops, confectioners and milliners.
With the centenary of World War One starting in a few months’ time, there is a huge surge of interest in the 1914-18 period, encompassing the history of the war itself, the lives and times of people on the home front in those years and of course for those researching ancestors caught up in the conflict.
Tracing fathers of illegitimate ancestors is challenging for family historians. We should suspect that an ancestor was born illegitimately if: • The father’s name is missing from the birth or marriage certificate (although there may be a valid reason for this). From 1875, the father had to be present when the birth was registered so his name should appear on the certificate, whether legitimate or not. • On a census entry, a child listed as daughter/son but much younger than their apparent siblings may point to an illegitimate grandchild. • A child living with grandparents or other relative, perhaps some distance away, should also raise suspicions.
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