HL Deb 17 February 1823 vol 8 cc123-4

Several petitions were presented, complaining of the clause in the new Marriage act, which took away from peculiars the privilege of granting marriage licences.

Lord Ellenborough

observed, that with regard to this point, no information had been given to the House either by learned lords, or by the right rev. bench, and thus the House had been induced to agree to a clause in the act of last session, taking away from peculiars the right of granting marriage licences without being aware of the extent of the inconvenience thus created, or the vested rights with which they had thus interfered.

Lord Redesdale

said, he took the blame of the clause to himself. The fact was, that he was not aware of the number of peculiars having the right of granting licences, nor was it, he believed, at all known in the House.

Lord Stowell

observed, that though immediately connected with the administration of justice in the ecclesiastical courts, he was not at all aware of the number of peculiars having the right of granting licences, nor was it known to the right rev. bench, it not coming at all under their cognizance.

Lord Ellenborough

hoped there would be no objection to restoring the rights of these peculiars, founded as they were upon immemorial usage.

Lord Stowell

said, he had no objection to a clause of that nature.

The Earl of Liverpool

said, he would not pledge himself upon this question, without knowing more of the nature of these peculiars.

Lord Redesdale

was of opinion, that none of the rights of these peculiars could be of older date than the Reformation, and it was doubtful whether some of them would bear the test of inquiry, or whether the exercise of them had not been assumed in consequence of grants of property to ecclesiastical corporations or individuals.

The Lord Chancellor

was apprehensive, that in some of those jurisdictions called peculiars, licences had been granted, which were not legal, before the parties were aware of the operation of the act of last session; and though he had felt it a painful duty to oppose the retrospective clauses in the act of last session, he should be perfectly ready to agree to a retrospective clause, for the purpose of giving a legal effect to the licences so illegally granted, in order to prevent the unhappy consequences that might otherwise arise, with regard to the marriages solemnized by virtue of such licences.

Lord Stowell,

with the view of framing a measure that should be generally and clearly understood, moved the appointment of a committee, to consider the present state of the law regarding marriages, and whether any and what amendment ought to be made therein.

The motion was agreed to, and a committee appointed.