Zion on the Hudson

Wooing and Wedding,
page 8 of 12

If this decent and for many reasons proper method of publication was once generally to take place, we should have no more of clandestine marriages; and save the expense of licenses, no inconsiderable sum these hard and depressing times.”

Another reason for “crying the banns” was given in Holt’s “New York Gazette and Postboy” for December 6, 1765.

“As no Licenses for Marriage could be obtained since the first of November for Want of Stamped Paper, we can assure the Publick several Genteel Couple were publish’d in the different Churches of this City last Week; and we hear that the young Ladies of this Place are determined to Join Hands with none but such as will to the utmost endeavour to abolish the Custom of marrying with License which Amounts to many Hundred per annum which might be saved.”

Severe penalties were imposed upon clergymen who violated the law requiring license or publication ere marriage. The Lutheran minister performed such a marriage, and the schout’s “conclusion” as to the matter was that the offending minister be flogged and banished. But as he was old, and of former good services, he was at last only suspended a year from power of preaching.

Rev. Mr. Miller, an English clergyman writing in 1695, complains that many marriages were by justices of the peace. This was made lawful by the States-General of Holland from the year 1590, and thus was a law in New Netherland. By the Duke’s Laws, 1664, it was also made legal. This has never been altered, and is to-day the law of the State.

Of highly colored romance in the life of the Dutch colonists there was little. Sometimes a lover was seized by the Indians, and his fair betrothed mourned him through a long life. In one case she died after a few years of grief and waiting, and on the very day of his return from his savage prison to his old Long Island home he met the sad little funeral procession bearing her to the grave. Another humbler romance of Gravesend was when a sorrowing widower fell in love with a modest milkmaid at first sight as she milked her father’s cows; ere the milking was finished he told his love, rode to town on a fast horse for a governor’s license, and married and carried off his fair Grietje. A century later a fair Quakeress of Flushing won in like manner, when milking, the attention and affection of Walter Franklin of New York.


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