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criminately any parties who may present themselves, whose.
I remain, dear Sir,
The Rev. John Price to the Rev. S. T. Wylde.
My Dear. Sir,
Dec. 7, 1812.
Since I addressed a letter to you on business, as a Commissioner of Taxes, I received your very correct and proper address to the Clergy, on the subject of abuses, which have long prevailed in and about Bristol, in respect to the immoral, and I think illegal, celebration of marriages. I beg you will accept my best thanks for your very laudable exertions, and I trust you will have the thanks and support of every clergyman for your endeavours to remove an evil so very generally complained of: it has existed in all the different parishes I have been, and still am, connected with, such as Worle, Kewstoke, Uphill, Rowberrow, and Bleadon; the inhabitants of those parishes have sent in their names by curriers to Bristol, for the publication of their banns in the church they intended to be married in, and without a day's residence in such parish, and often within the prohibited degrees, have returned to their own parish as man and wife; the legislature, I hope, will see the necessity of interposing in this case, and put a stop to what you most justly denominate a system of licensed prostitution. I have the honor to be, my dear Sir,
Yours very truly,
The Rev. T. D. to the Rev. S. T. Wylde.
Dec. 8, 1812. I am favored with your friendly note, and printed letter, on a subject, the evils of which have too long reigned uncontrouled, and increasing under the present state of licentiousness and irreligion, insomuch that Government cannot withhold its best thanks for your most laudable endeavours to point out to the legislature any remedy for the benefiting society, and particularly your rendering the solemn sacrament of marriage more pure and sacred : and I conceive it would, as you observe, highly improve the security of proper junctions, as well adding to the means of detecting frauds, if the oath taken by the man included himself as well as the woman, in regard to residence, and certainly would, as you justly point out, increase the solemnity of the Act, by taking it upon a stump, and granting it by way of certificate, rendering its production obligatory to any minister who marries them. But as the most inquisitive and scrupulous of the clergy may be imposed upon by the ingenuity and art of the designing, some punishment ought to attend upon the commission of those horrid connexions you
have stated. Where the stock is corrupt, the seed is liable to · be infected, even beyond the power of the noble institutions
now abounding, to purify. I am happy in believing my parish and cure are uncontaminated; and you may rest assured of my vigilant endeavours to keep them so; and that I shall feel extremely happy (if my signature be required) in seconding any resolutions you may deem necessary for promoting 80 praise-worthy an undertaking;
And remain, dear Sir,
The Rev. I. F. D. to the Rev.S.T. Wylde.
Dec. 8, 1812. I have read your circular letter with much satisfaction, and feel thankful for your exertions in so good a cause.
I have only to refer you to my register-book to prove the shameful excess to which clandestine marriages are carried by the inhabitants of this parish. In 1801, there were 18 baptisms, and only one marriage.
1802, 19 baptisms, .......... 4 marriages.
...... 1 marriage.
...... .2 marriages. 1811, 26 .................. 2 marriages.
1812, 35 .................. 1 marriage. We have had two instances of men marrying their brothers' widows. Wishing you every success in your laudable undertaking,
I remain, dear Sir,
J. F. D.
Extracts from the Letter of the Rev. J. S. to the Rev. S. T. Wylde. ,
Dec. 13, 1812. I have great pleasure in acknowledging the receipt of the letter and pamphlet which you did me the favor of sending, and am truly glad to find that an abuse, which has been attended with so many evils to the morals and interests of society, and has so long called for the interference and reform of the legislature, has found so able an enemy, from whose most laudable endeavours a happy result must be expected. To show my reprehension of the frequent practice of people leaving their own parish to get married, I have long pursued this only mode of punishment in my powerto make the woman produce a certificate of her marriage when she comes to be churched—not to church her, or christen her child, but on a Sunday—to receive the fee of her, (if ever so poor,) and assign my reason for doing so. The population of my parish being so great, repeatedly frequent are the instances of persons going from thence to Bristol and Bedminster to be married. In my answer to the late queries of Government, I made the most pointed observations on the comparatively small number of marriages, stating your remarks of the abuses at Bedminster and Bristol, and asking if there was not a necessity for a revision of the Marriage Act, hoping through that channel to have drawn the attention of Government to the subject.
I suggest to you the case of Mr. S-r, of Draycot--his only son marrying, I believe, the servant-maid : The case of Farmer V-1-s, of Wivington, (Compton parish) marrying his niece. A few months since I published a widower, of Winscombe, to Mr. S--p-d's servant-maid, of this parish; he came to me, and insisted that I was notwithstanding bound to marry him, said he was married so before, and insolently told me, if I did not, he would go to Bedminster; he went, and was married. A strong instance of the evil occurred in my parish-A woman, having a husband living, even in a neighbouring parish, cohabited with a man of my parish, was married to him at Bedminster, and went by his name; was a very bad character ; this man died, and left her his property. A short time after she gave the clerk a publication to another man; a friend officiated for me that Sunday, and published her : on the Sunday following, I refused the publication-they went to Bedminster and were married. Thus, through the facility of marriage at such places without residence, or any questions being put to them, this woman was not only guilty of bigamy, but polygamy. I think within the last 3 months there have been three marriages at Bristol, or Bedminster, from my parish, when neither of the parties ever lived in the parish where they were married. If you thought it necessary to support this clause you wish to have inserted, I would write to two members, particular friends, Sir William Guise and Robert Morris, of Gloster; but surely it will plead strong enough of itself. If I should collect any further and stronger cases, I will communicate them to you immediately. Wishing every possible success to the cause, of 'which I think there can be po doubt,
I am, dear Sir,
The Rev. R. H. to the Rev. S. T. Wylde.
Dec. 14, 1812. Your favor reached me yesterday, for which I return you my best thanks, and I sincerely hope you will be supported by the legislature to eradicate an evil so universally prevalent at this time. I am informed there are in this extensive parish, five to one, who say they have been married