Monday, July 14, 2008

Did They Marry Young?

"They married so young back then!"

I've heard this many times but it certainly isn't true in my family tree. I take "so young" to mean in their teens and I have not found many teen marriages in my research. I'm certain that in my file there are a few cousins that married at 16 or perhaps even younger but here I will look only at my ancestors.

My parents were 20 and 21 and for my tree that was young.

My paternal grandparents, Kim Berry & Mary Kelly were 22.
My maternal grandparents, Daniel Carlisle & Pearl Camfield, about 34.

Joseph Berry & Charlotte Hollington, 22 and 17 (a month shy of her 18th birthday).
James Kelly & Isabella White, 35 and 26.
Ashley Carlisle & Annie Camfield were 34 and 23.
Joseph Camfield & Rose Graham, 25 and 20.

Thomas Berry & Jane Rawlings, 22 and 20.
James Hollington & Sarah Ann Ross, 22 and 20.
Michael Kelly & Mary, wish I knew but my best guess is early 20's.
James White & Isabella Craig, 31 and 29.
Daniel Carlisle & Louisa Glover were about 30. Hannah Glover (Daniel's 2nd wife) was 29.
Michael Camfield & Sarah Ann Wisner, I think he was about 20, she was about 22.
James Graham & Elizabeth Doughty were 18.

I won't bore you with specifics of all individuals further generations back. The only others I've found that married in their teens were:

  • Phebe Haight, who was born on 12 Nov 1701 and married Anthony Badgley on her 18th birthday. (Now I am questioning the date and need to go back and recheck!)
  • Miriam Eager, born 1712 married Isaac Harrington when she was 16 or 17.
  • Ebenezer Lewis & Hannah Gill were both about 18 in 1723 when they married.

There are too many ancestors in my file that I don't have specific dates for and there could be be others but all in all, having looked at 9 generations I was surprised I didn't find more.

So how do I compare to my ancestors? At the time of my first marriage I was a month shy of my 18th birthday. Guess which of my ancestors I was named for. Coincidence?

This was written for the 52nd edition of the Carnival of Genealogy, Age. This edition of the COG will be hosted by Lisa at 100 Years in America.


Thomas MacEntee said...

Great post! And now you have my mental juices flowing here - in my family, looking back there are many instances of May/December weddings (always with the man being much older than the woman) or instances where a sister will marry her dead husband's brother (which I guess was not unheard of in the 19th century).

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

There are a few May/December marriages in my tree, most of them recent, including mine if nine years is a large enough age gap. I was surprised not to find more going back but there was one where the wife died and he married his much younger sister-in-law. Another case where the man married two of his 1st wife's cousins, increasing the age gap each time.

Bill West said...

Hi Apple,
I never even thought of this angle on the topic. A quick look at my West line shows the Elusive John Cutter West was 8 years older than Arvilla Ames when they married. He was 25 and she was 17.

I'm going to have to do more digging now because my curiosity is piqued!