Marriage; the union of two individuals into a sacred bond that is intended to last and grow over a lifetime, is significantly different from culture to culture and society to society. Marriage in a tribal society in Africa has many different meanings and applications to it, than the union of two people in matrimony, in England. Rules, practices and legislation of marriage in one culture and even a single class within the aforementioned culture also differs from what it was in centuries past. The marriage practices and customs of present day England have changed significantly from those of the 17th century. This is most true when studying the higher social groups, the Aristocratic and gentry classes in England. Marriage in seventeenth century ‘high’ English society had many political, economic and social implications attached to it. Reasons for marriage were not structured mainly love and compassion, such as it is today; rather the political and economic stature of both families were of great concern and therefore played a large role in marriage. For this reason, the fathers of the couple to be wed had the greatest interest in the wedding, as they had the most to gain or lose. The lack of control over the ‘most import
Marriage within the aristocratic classes of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in England were largely predetermined and controlled by the fathers of the bride and groom, leaving the couple to be wed, without say in the matter. The most important was the provision of a future jointure, or annual allowance for support of the bride during her widowhood" Second in importance to the jointure, was the allowance made to the groom in his father"tms lifetime. "The advantage of arranged marriage might be great in terms of protection and security" Marriage might giver her a certain new status, placing her higher up then table than her sisters, but in relation to one man she had become, as it were, a subject. It was therefore accepted in the gentry that women could refuse to marry a suitor chosen for her. For these reasons, the proper marriage was vital to maintain the social and political position a family occupied and any mistake would prove to be disastrous. "The father of the groom had to undertake a far wider set of obligations than the father of the bride. " The law had added to it that parental consent was necessary from both sides of the marriage and that parents were to be present at the wedding to prove their consent. This might take the form of an annuity, or of a direct transfer of property and a house, often the same as the jointure. They could not be trusted to choose a man as it would be based on circumstances of romance and love, leaving out the political, social and economic reasons which dominated the decision of whom to marry. It was recognised by the elite that prior to the enactment of the marriage law that many of England"tms marriages in were of the clandestine variety. " Women who were of age to be set up in a marriage, new that this marriage would give them security in life but at the expense of their liberty and freedom. If an embarrassing mistake occurs to a family member in marriage, his social credibility would be lowered and subsequently he would receive little in the way of respect and honour, which was common prior to the marriage. The law it can be said, was passed not for the young adults marrying, rather for their parents. The industrial revolution had by this point began and many men of middle class had found themselves with vast fortunes, more power and a growing respect within the social classes.