Manners And Customs.
good number of unmarried women for our unmarried freemen and others;" but whether this request was complied with by the home authorities does not appear, so far as I have ascertained. After the territory had passed into the ownership of the English crown, and subsequently under Penn's, we learn that spinsters were one of the rarities of the province, for quaint old Gabriel Thomas informs us that "old maids were not to be met with, for all commonly marry before they are twenty years of age."
The state of marriages soon became the subject of legal enactment, which, under the Duke of York laws, was not to be entered into unless the bans had been asked in the church three several days, or a special license had been procured, and the marriage must be registered. If there was no church or meeting-house in the locality where the parties lived, notice must be given by posting the names on the door of the constable's house, and on those of two of the overseers of the poor. The legal age for females was as now, - twenty-one years, - excepting in cases when the parents were dead, when it was eighteen years.
Among the laws agreed upon in England by Penn before be came to the province were the following regulating marriages:
"That all marriages (not forbidden by the law of God, as to the nearness of blood and affinity by marriage) shall be encouraged; but the parents or guardians shall be first consulted, and the marriage shall be published before it be solemnized, and it shall be solemnized by taking one another as husband and wife before credible witnesses, and a certificate of the whole, under the hands of parties and witnesses, shall be brought to the proper Register of the county, and shall be registered in his office."
To prevent clandestine marriages, the person performing the ceremony in violation of law, by the act of March 10, 1683, was fined twenty pounds, while the parties married were fined ten pounds. Under the administration of Governor Fletcher the notice of an intended marriage must be posted on the meeting- or court-house door one full month before the ceremony was performed, and when solemnized it must be in the presence of at least twelve persons. By the act of 1693 a justice of the peace was required to be present at every marriage, and the certificate must be signed by twelve persons who were present on the occasion. This requirement was, however, not applicable to parties who were married according to the form of the Church of England. The act of 1700 imposed a fine of five pounds on all persons present at a clandestine marriage, and they were also liable to pay to the party aggrieved all damages that they may have sustained by reason of such marriage. Under this law a servant who married without the consent of his or her master being first had thereto was compelled to serve one year after the expiration of his or her indentured term, and if a free man married a bonded servant woman, he was required to pay whatever damages the master could prove he had suffered by the act, and where a free woman married a bonded servant man, she was subject to make payment to her husband's master for the damage her marriage had occasioned the latter, the sum to be assessed by the justices.
Robert Wade, a good man and true, who lived up to the law, and so far as was in his power insisted that others should do so, at the court held first and second days of first week, Tenth month, 1684, presented Joseph Cookson "for taking a wife contrary to the good and wholesome Laws of this Province," and the court ordered that Cookson should find security for ten pounds.
At the court held 3d day of Tenth month, 1685, a case was tried that showed that practical jokes were played in early times which, as now, resulted to the disadvantage of some person. The circumstances in the instance mentioned were briefly these: Matthew Risley was at the public-house of Henry Hollingsworth, on Edgmont Avenue, Second Street, Chester, when a company "came from Maryland to the inn. Some of the latter knew Risley, and the conversation turned on marriage, when one of the Marylanders asked Risley whether he could marry a couple now?" to which interrogation he replied, "Yes, for twenty pounds;" but afterwards said that he would do it for two pieces of eight. The former then stated "she was an heiress." Risley, however, declared that for a pot of beer he would clear them even if she was an heiress. Thereupon the Marylanders called for two pots of beer and gave them to Risley, who told the woman she must get up very early in the morning and mount the horse first, and then take the man she desired for her husband up behind her on the horse. If she did this he promises "to clear them all." The arrangement, however, seemed not to meet their approval, but they earnestly insisted on being married that night. Whereupon Risley "went and got a Bible, and so proceeded as far as they thought they could well let him, and then one of the company untied a morning gown, as the man had on, and so he discovered him to be a man and not a woman that he was marrying." This circumstance coming to the ears of the grand jury, that body presented Risley, who, at the next court, on being arraigned, acknowledged the facts as herein stated, whereupon the court sentenced him to receive thirteen lashes, pay the costs and be for the term discharged. The clerk records (the only instance I find where such an entry is made), "which said number of lashes were laid on his bare back." Under what law this corporal punishment was inflicted I have failed to learn.
At the December court in the previous year the grand jury presented "Edward Beyer and Jeane Collett for being unlawfully married about the 13 of the 7th month last 1697." The defendant, Edward Beyer, "came into Court and proffered a petition and declared it was thro' ignorance, and the Court, consider-