[Gretna Green and ‘runaway marriages’.] Autograph Signature of ‘R B Mackinnon. / Last Blacksmith / “Priest” / Gretna Green’.

Gretna Green and ‘runaway marriages’; R. B. Mackinnon (fl. 1941), blacksmith, last of the ‘anvil priests’
Publication details: 
2 September 1941. Gretna Green [Scotland].

The author of the present item is the last in a line that stretched for around two hundred years. After the passing in 1754 of Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act, which prevented minors from marrying without their parents’ consent, English couples would take advantage of laxer Scottish laws. As one of the nearest parishes to England, Gretna Green became the destination of choice, and the marriage was usually conducted before two witnesses by a village blacksmith, who became known as an ‘anvil priest’.

Syndicate content