Age of consent
Hardwick's Act fixed the lower legal age of marriage as 14 for men and 12 for women. This was raised to 16 for both sexes in 1929, although parental consent was still required for brides or bridegrooms under age 21. Marriage of a minor by banns without consent did not render the marriage null and void, but was uncommon as usually someone in attendance when the banns were read would object on the grounds of age or lack of consent. Couples often went to another parish where no-one lived that knew their real age. Marriage of a minor by licence without parental consent was null and void, although it still happened, and as Hardwick's Act did not apply to Scotland, marriages in Gretna Green, the nearest Scottish town from the English border, were a regular occurrence for people under the age of 21. In 1939, Scottish law was changed to mirror English law.
In 1969, the minimum age for marriage without parental consent was lowered to 18 years of age.
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