Wooing and Wedding,
page 6 of 12
In Albany may be found several joint-wills, among them two dated 1663 and 1676; others in the Schuyler family. There is something very touching in the thought of those simple-minded husbands and wives, in mutual confidence and affection, going, as we find, before the notary together and signing their will together, “out of love and special nuptial affection, not thereto misled or sinisterly persuaded,” she bequeathing her dower or her father’s legacy or perhaps her own little earnings, and he his hard-won guilders. It was an act significant and emblematic of the ideal unison of interests and purposes which existed as a rule in the married life of these New York colonists.
Mrs. Grant adds abundant testimony to the domestic happiness and the marital affection of residents of Albany a century later. She states:—
“Inconstancy or even indifference among married couples was unheard of, even where there happened to be a considerable disparity in point of intellect. The extreme affection they bore their mutual offspring was a bond that forever endeared them to each other. Marriage in this colony was always early, very often happy, and very seldom indeed interested. When a man had no son, there was nothing to be expected with a daughter but a well brought-up female slave, and the furniture of the best bed-chamber. At the death of her father she obtained another division of his effects, such as he thought she needed or deserved, for there was no rule in these cases.
“Such was the manner in which those colonists began life; nor must it be thought that those were mean or uninformed persons. Patriots, magistrates, generals, those who were afterwards wealthy, powerful, and distinguished, all, except a few elder brothers, occupied by their possessions at home, set out in the same manner; and in after life, even in the most prosperous circumstances, they delighted to recount the humble toils and destiny obscure of their early years.”
Weddings usually took place at the house of the bride’s parents. There are some records of marriages in church in Albany in the seventeenth century, one being celebrated on Sunday. But certainly throughout the eighteenth century few marriages were within the church doors.