HC Deb 17 March 1819 vol 39 cc1028-9
Dr. Phillimore

, in pursuance of notice, rose to move for leave to bring in a Bill "to amend certain provisions of the 26th of George 2nd, for the better preventing of Clandestine Marriages." The immediate object of this bill would be, to amend that part of the existing law which referred to the marriage of minors, and his remedy intended to apply to such marriages whether by licences or banns. As the Jaw now stood, any marriage by licence contracted by a minor, without the previous conenst of his parents or guardians, was null and void. The enactment was absolute, and courts of law were compelled to set aside all such marriages. The evil results of such a system were, that suits were instituted many years after such marriages had taken place. There were instances where parties, after a lapse of twenty years, and with a numerous issue from the connexion had claimed the benefit of their own per-jury. The evil, however, did not rest there, for the law inflicted its vengeance on the posterity; it being in the power of the next of kin at any time to interpose his objection, founded on the minority of the father, and thus prevent the property of the parent from being possessed by the child. Such a state of the law was a scandal and disgrace. The object of his bill was to limit the time for instituting such suits. He should propose that the parent or guardian should be limited to the time when the minority ceased, and that the suit of the minor should commence within one year after he came of age. With respect to his second object, the marriage by banns, it was notorious that in the metropolis and in other large cities, the publication of banns was a mere nullity. His remedy would be, to place minors under this description of marriage on the same footing as the amended law would place minors by licence, with this addition, that the parties marrying by banns should have a complete residence of one fortnight in the parish where the banns were published. He assured the House, that in submitting this measure to its consideration he was actuated by no visionary ideas of improvement, but solely by the desire to correct a growing and admitted evil [Hear, hear!]

Leave was given, and Dr. Phillimore and sir John Nicholl were ordered to bring in the same.