Elizabethan dating and marriage courtship
Courting gave women power; it was their decision whether to accept or reject a suitor. “You know I have never with all my faults betrayed one symptom of vanity, but now if you should discover a little spice of it can you Wonder—just at this moment are at my entire disposal two of the Very Smartest Beaux this country can boast of—what think you of G & B both at my feet at one. The choice of a husband was very important since, once made, only death could undo a marriage. It meant leaving childhood behind, taking on adult responsibilities, and forming a new family.
There is much speculation going on as to the preference I shall give & tho I do not intend to practice one Coquettish air as you are pleased to call my little innocent gaieties yet for my own amusement do I intend to leave these speculating geniuss to their own conjectures for some time at least till I have made up my mind as to the time—for you must know I know I mean make one Surprize do for all by being married off hand—believe me it is impossible for me to think too long on the subject lest I should in truth be whimsical.” (Eliza Ambler to Mildred Smith, February 1785.)“It has ever been my wish to keep my Daughters single ‘till they were old enough to form a proper judgment of Mankind; well knowing that a Woman’s happiness depends entirely on the Husband she is united to; it is a step that requires more deliberation than girls generally take, or even Mothers seem to think necessary; the risk tho always great, is doubled when they marry very young; it is impossible for them to know each others disposition; for at sixteen and nineteen we think everybody perfect that we take a fancy to . With the rise of the affectionate family, arranged marriages became a thing of the past.
Everyone had an obligation to support and nurture the new family unit. The minister led the group down the aisle of the church or family parlor, followed by the bride and groom in their finest clothes, the parents, and the bridesmaids and bridesmen. we continued dancing till twelve.” (Robert Hunter, Jr., December 1, 1785.) Anyone who slipped away from the dancing to rest could be hunted down and forced to return.
Hannah Powell may have been married at Bruton Parish due to its proximity to her home.
After completing their domestic training, they enjoyed late adolescence as a special phase of life.
Since were not yet responsible for running a household or raising children, women had more freedom during these years than they would ever have again. George Tucker, 1788.) Others married quickly for fear that waiting too long might eliminate the availability or choice of husbands.
While parents expected to be consulted and offered advice or criticism freely, men and women chose their own marriage partners, and parents usually accepted their children’s choices.
Parents could control their children’s ability to marry before the age of twenty-one.