A Perfect Babel of Confusion

Wooing and Wedding,
page 7 of 12

Mrs. Vanderbilt says no Flatbush marriages took place in the church till within the past thirty or forty years. In some towns written permission of the parents of the groom, as well as the bride, was required by the domine before he would perform the marriage ceremony. In the Guelderland the express consent of father and mother, must be obtained before the marriage; and doubtless that custom of the Fatherland caused its adoption here in some localities. The minister also in some cases gave a certificate of permission for marriage; here is one given by “ye minister at Flatbush,”—

Isaac Hasselburg and Elizabeth Baylis have had their proclamation in our church as commonly our manner and custom is, and no opposition or hindrance came against them, so as that they may be confirmed in ye banns of Matrimony, whereto we wish them blessing. Midwout ye March 17th, 1689. Rudolph Varrick, Minister.

This was probably to permit and authorize the marriage in another parish.

Marriage fees were not very high in colonial days, nor were they apparently always retained by the minister; for in one of Domine Selyns’s accounts of the year 1662, we find him paying over to the Consistory the sum of seventy-eight guilders and ten stuyvers for fourteen marriage fees received by him. The expenses of being married were soon increased by the issuing of marriage licenses. During the century dating from the domination of the British to the Revolutionary War nearly all the marriages of genteel folk were performed by special permission, by Governor’s license, the payment for which (a half-guinea each, so Kalm said) proved through the large numbers a very welcome addition to the magistrates’incomes. It was in fact deemed most plebeian, almost vulgar, to be married by publication of the banns for three Sundays in church, or posting them according to the law, as was the universal and fashionable custom in New England. This notice from a New York newspaper, dated December 13, 1765, will show how widespread had been the aversion to the publication of banns:

“We are creditly informed that there was married last Sunday evening, by the Rev. Mr. Auchmuty, a very respectable couple that had published three different times in Trinity Church. A laudable example and worthy to be followed.


:: Previous Page :: Next Page ::

Books & articles appearing here are modified adaptations
from a private collection of vintage books & magazines.
Reproduction of these pages is prohibited without written permission. © Laurel O'Donnell, 1996-2006.