Friday, November 22, 2013

Fredericksburg VA - A Gretna Green in 1959?


As we worked our way through the 191 marriage records issued in 1959 for the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia this morning we noted a large number of those marriage licenses were for couples that did not reside in Virginia. The couples came from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and some midwest states. These couples gave their current residence in those states, were not connected to the military, and applied, received and were married by court appointee on the same day.  Many, if not all couples had one or both divorced. This may be a clue? 

Gretna Green is a village in Scotland where in the early 1800s couples from England who desired a quick or runaway wedding could go there and get the deed done. This situation was abolished by act of Parliament in 1856.  Marriages in Scotland were deemed illegal unless one of the parties lived in Scotland for 21 days. But the name stuck and towns that allow couples to be married in haste, such as Fredericksburg, are called "Gretna Green."

We are curious as to why in 1959 so many out of state couples came to Fredericksburg to be married. Another mystery to solve. 

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