There is something very romantic about the idea of simply deciding to get married and going down to the court house or running off to Vegas Plus, for many couples the idea of small wedding, with just the two of them, pledging their lives to each other is the only way to go. And while elopements may be far more common practice now, this wasn’t always the case. Throughout history and literature when couples eloped it was a far more scandalous affair. So, join us as we look at some elopements throughout history.
The Victorian Literary Power Couple:
Elizabeth Barret Browning and Robert Browning, after a long and passionate courtship, eloped in Sept of 1846. Elizabeth’s father was strict and refused to allow any of his 12 children to get married, this was especially true for Elizabeth who had been sickly for most of her life. So, after a year of writing back and forth after having met in 1845, the couple ran off to Italy for Elizabeth’s health and married once they arrived and lived in Florence until Elizabeth’s death in 1861. Even though it created quite a scandal in England, the couple still managed to have successful careers and remain two of the most beloved British poets of all time.
The Queen Who Almost Wasn’t:
Unlike the Brownings, this elopement is up for debate. Some historians believe it took place, where as others believe it was stopped before it happened. However, either way, it is clear Ann Boylan and Henry Percy had every intention of getting married. The couple met at court were Ann was a lady in waiting to Catherine of Aragon and Henry Percy was heir to the most powerful Earldom in England. Apparently, they were very much in love, however, Henry’s family was much more powerful than Ann’s and King Henry VIII had already taken a liking to her. So, when their plans were discovered, either before or after the marriage, Cardinal Woolsey put an end to it. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Elopement, Jane Austen Style:
Young couples running off to Gretna Green is a reoccurring theme in Jane Austen novels. At least three of her novels feature couples running away to this infamous town just over the border in Scotland. During Regency England it became the go to place when couples wanted to elope. Instead of the stricter laws surrounding marriage in England, a couple could simply show up in Gretna Green, declare themselves to be residents, and take their vows in front of two witnesses, usually the local blacksmiths, and they were married. These “unusual marriages” as they were called continued from 1754, when it became illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to get married without parental consent, until 1856 when a 21-day residence in the town was required. One of these blacksmith priests preformed over 5,000 wedding ceremonies.
Eloping is hardly the scandal inducing event it once was. In fact, for the more budget conscious couple, it can be a great way to have a romantic and intimate ceremony. If you want to know more about how to have the perfect elopement, why not enroll in our course and check out our module on eloping, which is coming in early 2019.