Posted by Ami Brough - March 07, 2014
Happy Genealogy Day! Really the 8th of March is Genealogy Day! We spotted programmes such as Heir Hunters on the telly this past week and it's got us thinking about the many stories that we hear every week from visitors who have a family connection here to the Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop!
Many people contact or visit Gretna Green these days searching for family members who were thought to have eloped here in days gone by.
Marriages, especially secret ones, are no secret to Gretna Green. Scots Law declared that marriage was by mutual consent, requiring little more than a simple declaration accepting each other as husband and wife! Traditional Scottish handfasting, amongst other ceremonies, became highly popular as couples took advantage of this unique difference between Scots and English/Welsh law. Known as 'irregular marriages', it was these 'informal weddings' that the Hardwick Act of 1754 attempted to 'bring under control'!
Anyone interested in Genealogy knows of the difficulties faced in tracing these records. Although it's now a wee bit out of date, a list of register locations in the Borders and Dumfries & Galloway were compiled and can be found at http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files2/family-records/irregular-border-and-scottish-runaway-marriages.pdf.
Are you a keen genealogist? Or perhaps a recent event has revealed a link to Gretna Green in your family history? If you have the following information, it goes a long way to aiding further discoveries:
-the names of bride and groom, parish and name of bride's father (if recorded) can help narrow down the search for their births/baptisms.
-the location of the marriage might help you to find the family in the earlier census records.
-if the couple have been previously irregularly married and have come to solemnise their marriage in the eyes of the Kirk (Church), there may be reference to this in the Kirk Session records.
Know that someone in your family married at Gretna Green Famous Blacksmiths Shop? Contact us on 01461 338441 - we may be able to help!
Does Gretna Green feature in your family history? Share your stories with us on here and on Facebook!