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Gretna Green

Gretna Green is situated 3/4 of a mile from the river Sark, the dividing-line between England and Scotland. As the nearest village on the Scottish side, Gretna Green was notorious as the resort of eloping couples, who had failed to obtain the consent of parents or guardians to their union. Up till 1754, when Lord Hardwickes act abolishing clandestine marriages came into force, the ceremony had commonly been performed in the Fleet prison in London.

After that date runaway couples were compelled to seek the hospitality of a country where it sufficed for them to declare their wish to marry in the presence of witnesses. At Gretna Green the ceremony was usually performed by the blacksmith, but the tollkeeper, ferryman or in fact any person might officiate, and the toll-house, the inn, or, after 1826, Gretna Hall was the scene of many such weddings, the fees varying from half a guinea to a sum as large as impudence could extort or extravagance bestow. As many as two hundred couples were married at the toll-house in a year. The romantic traffic was reduced, in 1856, when the law required one of the contracting parties to reside in Scotland three weeks previous to the event.

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