HL Deb 18 April 1872 vol 210 cc1471-2

Amendments reported (according to Order).


hoped the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Romilly) would inform the House to what particular class of persons it was intended to afford relief by this Bill. The 23 & 24 Vict. enabled persons, although not members of the Society of Friends, but who professed to be so, to marry according to the usages of the Society; but, as he understood the case, the noble and learned Lord brought forward this measure for the relief of persons who need not even profess with the Society of Friends. But if this exceptional privilege was to be given to one particular class who were to be exempted from the general law of the land with respect to marriage, a very large and wide door would be open to abuse. He had this further objection—that the only evidence of the persons having conformed to the rules of the Society was to be a certificate of a registering officer. Now, the recording clerk of the Society would be a much more suitable person to give the certificate, for registering officers were often persons of no repute whatever, and might, perhaps, be acted upon by considerations of an unworthy character.


said, there was a large number of persons who were very desirous to accede to the rules of the Society of Friends, although they did not desire to join them for all purposes of religion. The usages of the Society of Friends with respect to marriage were very peculiar. A man professing with the Society and wishing to marry, gave notice that he proposed to marry a certain lady, and the lady gave notice that she intended to marry the gentleman. A month's delay was then given, and the Society appointed a committee of two persons to inquire whether any impediment to the marriage existed. If no reasonable objection was discovered, the marriage was celebrated. Now, as he had said, there were many persons who professed with the Society, so far as marriage was concerned. But the Society objected to this qualified profession being called professing with the Society, and required them for that purpose to profess entirely; and without this, as the law now stood, they could not be admitted to the benefit of their law of marriages. This entire profession the others felt unable to make; but, in point of fact, they were a subdivision of the Society of Friends. Under these circumstances, it was for their Lordships to say whether the peculiar privileges of the marriage law of the Society of Friends could not be extended to the class of persons of whom he had spoken without any dangerous consequences. He had put in the clause about the registering officer at the instance of the Society of Friends, who said that the recording officer was much less fit for the purpose. That functionary had to certify to the Registrar General.

Bill to be read 3a on Tuesday next.

House adjourned at Seven o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.