Hempstead (General)

by Mike Pinchin @, Bedford, England, Sunday, December 23, 2018, 11:36 (635 days ago) @ grahamdavison

Out of interest I had a look at the Register of Banns for Hempsted from 1837 onwards (Ancestry). As a place of residence Littleworth (and sometimes the South Hamlet) features regularly until the 1860s. There are plenty of marginal notes giving the actual locations; the Squirrel Inn and the Nelson Inn are mentioned and other places which are clearly lodgings.

This makes me suspect that Hempsted was a church favoured by people who, for one reason or another, did not want banns published in their home parish and Littleworth provided the residential qualification for that to be done at Hempsted. There might have been family opposition to the match. There may have been a large age-gap between the parties leading to social opposition within their community. One or both of the parties may have been under 21 in which case parental consent would have been required; if they could get the banns published and the ceremony performed before the parents found out the marriage would remain valid. One or both of the parties may have already been married and the spouse(s) were still living – divorce was all but impossible for ordinary folk until 1857 and even after that it was not easy.

Some effort was evidently made to verify the residence. Apart from the marginal notes mentioned above there were cases where the banns were published on only one or two occasions (or even not at all) instead of the required three. These are often accompanied by a note saying “Not living in the Hamlet” or “Not found in the Hamlet”. There is even one which says “At Mrs Ayers near the Lime Kiln. Not satisfactory”, and another which says “Cancelled. Terms of residence not confirmed.”

Occasionally there are notes which show that someone did find out what was going on and took steps to put a stop to it:-

Forbidden by her mother in Service time.
Forbid by the Clerk of St. John’s Gloucester.
Forbidden by the Clerk of Crypt Church.
Forbidden by James Cox, her husband being then living.
Forbidden by her sister.

As far as I can see the practice dwindled after the death of the incumbent, Thomas Jones, in 1867.

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