In a minor footnote, Catherwood left his wife behind, and in a foreseeable development, his wife had an affair with his cousin, a member of the Caslon printing family. The result was a legal case that began in 1841, Catherwood v Caslon, in which Catherwood sued Caslon for adultery with Catherwood’s wife. Caslon’s attorneys argued, among other things, that Catherwood married his wife in Beirut in a ceremony conducted by an American Baptist missionary, not CofE clegy (Catherwood was a great traveler), and thus the marriage was invalid, although Catherwood’s attorneys argued it was done according to CofE rites.
The trial court awarded Catherwood damages. Caslon appealed, and several years later the judgment was reversed on the basis that a marriage outside the CofE was invalid. This set a legal precedent that apparently lasted some years.
I thought this would seem to go against received opinion that the Reform Act of 1832 awarded civil rights to non-Anglicans and thus led to the Oxford Movement 1833-41. It seems to me that the legal situation here indicates changes were much slower, and even if non-Anglicans could vote, their marriages don’t seem to have been valid before the English courts.
I referred this question to a well-informed visitor, who in turn referred the matter to an English barrister. That gentleman replied that after the Marriage Act 1753, only marriages celebrated before the clergy of the established church were valid (Quakers and Jews were specifically exempted from its provisions); it was not until the Marriage Act 1836 that Catholic and Dissenting clergymen were able to act as registrars. The particular circumstances of Catherwood v. Caslon would have been reversed by the Foreign Marriage Act 1892.
Further research by that gentleman brought to light that the Marriage Act 1753 came about because clandestine marriages were seen to be a problem in the mid-18th century, and presumably the requirement that banns be published as part of solemnization via the Church of England would solve it. One thing that puzzles me mildly is that, as a former literary scholar, I'm not aware of any English novels in the major canon that deal with any circumstances that might have arisen from this requirement, although clearly there was a juicy legal case that did arise from it.
Is anyone aware of any novels that cover circumstances arising from a marriage solemnized outside the Church of England between 1753 and 1892 -- coincidentally, the golden age of the English novel?
Interestingly, our diocesan Catholic parish does publish banns. In fact, multiple banns seem to be published weekly. No banns were published in our former diocesan parish, possibly because no marriages took place there, which wouldn't be a surprise. In my 30 years as an Episcopalian, I saw banns published only once, and it was clearly meant as a quaint archaism.