Gretna Green Database

Family histories abound with stories of elopements. Often the destination of couples who wished to marry without parental consent was Gretna Green, just over the border with Scotland in "debatable land". After 1753, when English law forbad irregular marriages, a number of people who objected to marrying in a church wed in border centres where the couple's own consent to marriage before witnesses was legal under Scottish Law. Gretna is the most famous of these. Marriages were conducted by self appointed ministers at the border Toll booths along the few roads into Scotland. The "priests", as they called themselves, often had other jobs giving rise to the stories of being married over an anvil by the village Blacksmith. Held by us at the Institute headquarters, the index covers entries between 1795 and 1895, with a few earlier references. In all over 4500 entries are recorded for those lost marriages. Ask yourself: "Did my great-great-great grandmother elope to Gretna?"

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