The laws in Britain were based on the notion that when a woman married she would be taken care of by her husband.

This wasn't always the case. before the 1882 Married Property Act, any monies etc that a woman brought into the marriage belonged to the husband, that included any earnings from work she did after they were married.

The children also became the property of the man, and if they divorced the children remained with the father, and the mother could be barred from seeing them.

The Matrimonial Cause Act of 1857 allowed MEN to divorce their spouse on grounds of adultery, but women were unable to do the same.


Hardwicke's Marriage Act of 1754

Stipulates that every marriage was to be preceded either by banns read in their respective churches 3 Sundays before the ceremony took place, or by licence from the Bishop of the diocese.

Before this Act there was no legal lower age of marriage except in the 1650s 16 for men and  women 14. In 1783/4 it was fixed at 14 for men and 12 for women. This remained until 1929 when the Age of Marriage Act brought in the legal age of 16 for both sexes.


Spinning in the Middle Ages was an industry dominated by women, and supplied them with a livelihood, that the term SPINSTER became synonymous with single women. Hence the term still used today for an unmarried woman.


The following pages were taken from Parish Registers of Elvington. which are in the York Family History Centre at James street, York.

Under construction

Marriages 1837-1851









Marriages outside of Elvington