HL Deb 14 August 1860 vol 160 cc1251-2

presented petitions from the Lord Mayors and corporations of London and York, and from upwards of 100 other large towns in England, for the Repeal of the law which prohibits Marriage with a deceased wife's Sister. At this late period of the Session, when so many of their Lordships, and particularly of the members of the right rev. Bench, had left London, he should feel it highly unbecoming to accompany the presentation of these petitions with any remarks calculated to provoke discussion. He should merely say, therefore, that he would not have undertaken to present them if he did not concur in their prayer, and regret the repeated decisions of their Lordships upon the question, which was one of great social, and, to many of his fellow-countrymen, of great personal interest. He believed, however, that a great change had taken place in the public mind upon the subject. There was a growing conviction that these marriages were not contrary to the Divine law, and he trusted the day was not distant when their Lordships in their wisdom and justice would consider that persons who contracted these marriages should not be treated by the civil law as transgressors, and that their children should not be visited with civil disabilities.


thought it was a mistake to suppose that there was any change in the public mind upon this subject. Innumerable petitions had been presented on the other side during the present Session, and he believed that in England, Ireland, and Scotland the vast majority of the male, and almost the whole of the female population were against legalizing such marriages.


also presented petitions in favour of marriage with a deceased wife's sister, and expressed his dissent from the statement of the noble and learned Lord on the woolsack, that the people generally were against any change in the law.


believed, on the contrary, that the country was still ns much averse as ever it was to the legali zation of marriage with a deceased wife's sister.