Dating and wedding customs in england
When the state started taxing marriage in the 1690s, the vicar of Tetbury in Gloucestershire carried out a survey of his parishioners to find out how many had been married in church.
Yet the idea that in the past the English were all respectably married could not be further from the truth.
The upshot of this was an exodus of defrocked clergyman across the border to Scotland, where clandestine marriage was still valid, followed by a steady flow of couples eloping to Gretna Green.
The same casual attitude applied to sexual morality.
Clandestine marriage led to all sorts of abuses, from the kidnapping, drugging, forced marriage and rape of heiresses by fortune hunters to under-age, same-sex, incestuous or bigamous unions.
Bigamy was common in a society where divorce was denied.