Penny Weddings

Penny Weddings (or PENNY BRIDALS) is the name of a peculiar festive marriage ceremonial which was common in Scotland until the middle of the 17th century. At these penny weddings the invited guests made contributions in money (seldom more than one shilling each), to pay the general expenses, and leave over a small sum, which would assist the newly married pair in furnishing their dwelling. This practice, now disused, as leading to "profane minstreling and promiscuous dancing," was denounced by an Act of the General Assembly of the Kirk in 1645, as well as by numerous acts of presbyteries and kirk-sessions about the same period. The act reads as follows:

"The assembly, considering that many persons do invite to these penny weddings excessive numbers, arono, whom there frequently falls out drunkenness and uncleanness, for preventing whereof, by their act Feb. 13, 1645, they ordain presbyteries to take special care for restraining the abuses ordinarily committed at these occasions, as they shall think fit, and to take a strict account of the obedience of every session to their orders thereanent, and that at their visitation of parishes within their bouilds; which act is ratified March 8, 1701. By the 12th session assembly, 1706, presbyteries are to apply to magistrates for executing the laws relating to penny bridals, and the commission, upon application from them, are to apply to the government for obliging the judges who refuse to execute their office in that matter. By the 14th act Parl. 3 Car. II, it is ordained that at marriages, besides the married persons, their parents, brothers, and sisters, and the family wherein they live, there shall not be present above four friends on either side. If there shall be any greater number of persons at penny weddings within a town, or two miles thereof, that the master of the house shall be fined in the sum of 500 merks."

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