Thursday, September 25, 2014

Matrimonial disputes in the early 1800s

Thursday, September 25, 2014
Doctors Commons
Loretta reports:

The matter of divorce in England in the early 19th century is much too complicated for me to attempt in a post.  I’m not sure I’d attempt it in a dissertation.  However, since we historical romance authors often send our characters to Doctors Commons for this, that, or the other thing, I thought I’d offer a Rowlandson image from the Microcosm of London and an excerpt describing one of its matrimonial functions. 

Doctors Commons-matrimonial

This is also the place we’d send our heroes to obtain the famous-in-Regency-novels special license, which is explained in the epigraph heading the epilogue of Vixen in Velvet:

"But by special licence or dispensation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Marriages, especially of persons of quality, are frequently in their own houses, out of canonical hours, in the evening, and often solemnized by others in other churches than where one of the parties lives, and out of time of divine service, &c."
The Law Dictionary 1810

The image I’ve used is courtesy Wikipedia, because it’s of superior quality to the one in the Internet Archive version.  You can see truly splendid images from the Microcosm at the Spitalfields Life blog.


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