Week 12 of #52Ancestors and the theme is Joined Together. I thought I would take a look at the three marriages I have on my tree that all took place at Fleet Prison in London.
Edward Clarke married Margaret Roocks on 25 May 1725
Walter Comber married Jane Fillery on 17 September 1732
Edward Turner married Charity Clark on 2 October 1753
(Incidentally Charity was the daughter of Edward and Margaret)
A marriage at Fleet Prison or its environs was a common example of an irregular or a clandestine marriage taking place before the Marriage Act 1753 came into force on 25 March 1754. The reasons for these marriages taking place at Fleet are many and various; cost, speed, pregnant brides, parents not giving permission, underage to name a few. The clergymen in the Prison were less than scrupulous about who they married, they were just trying to make money and that was the reason why Parliament acted in 1754 and introduced the Marriage Act. This tightened up the rules on how marriages could be celebrated.
I can only guess at the reasons why my three couples married at the Fleet. This was Walter Comber’s second marriage, his first wife having died two years earlier. None of the brides appeared pregnant unless I have failed to find an earlier child in each case. I think it is interesting how Edward and Margaret’s daughter, Charity copied her parents. Perhaps I should check their other children’s marriages too!
Edward was described on the marriage entry as from Waldron and was a weaver. I’ve not managed to pin down a birth for him either in Waldron or East Grinstead or anywhere else in Sussex but then Clark is a fairly common surname. Margaret was of East Grinstead and that is where the family lived after the marriage. Despite her unusual name, I’ve not managed to find her birth either yet, Roocks could be Rocks or Rooks. Hmmm… They had 9 children, 3 were called Mary, the first two dying young. Charity was their 2nd child and married Edward Turner in 1753. Their marriage entry stated they were both of East Grinstead and Edward was a husbandman (farmer). They had 4 daughters and a son and their 3rd daughter, Sarah married William Faulkner my great x 5 grandfather.
Walter Comber was described as a Cordwainer from Slaugham, Sussex and Jane Fillery was also from Slaugham. Walter had been married to Sarah Wright, who died in 1730 leaving Walter to bring up their two young sons. Walter and Jane had 4 daughters. Unfortunately, Jane’s birth has not been found although it is thought she was younger than Walter. Walter married Sarah in 1707 so he would have been born about 1680-90 ish but again no birth found yet. It is known that he was the son of Lambert Comber, I have copies of deeds that mention Walter and his sister, Elizabeth who was my great x7 grandmother. Jane is thought to have been born about 1710 but there seems to be little evidence for that and once again I have not yet found a baptism for her.
It is a lesson learnt well though that if you are looking for a marriage during the early part of the 1700s that you cannot easily find, it is worth checking the Fleet marriages. Some are available on Findmypast or The National Archives is worth checking. I would love to find the reasons why they married in this way though!