Early Colonial Marriages

The method of marriage used by James and Susannah years before, called handfasting, was a sort of colonial version of common-law marriage. If the bride was under the age of 21, she needed permission from her parents to wed. If this could not be obtained, as was the case here, some couples chose to say their vows privately, even if their marriage was not lawfully recognized.  Oddly enough, this was sometimes done with a blacksmith officiating. As for Susannah being pursued mercilessly in by potential suitors following James’ death, I would consider this to be fairly realistic.  With the shortage of eligible women in the colonies back then, competition among the single men must have been almost fierce at times.  In doing genealogical research, I’ve seen cases of widows remarrying quickly. By the time Susannah married Joe, in Maryland it was required by law that couples be married in an Anglican ceremony. I chose the wording for the marriage ceremony from a 1589 version of the Book of Common Prayer, though I did change it a bit as well as abbreviate it so that the scene would not go on overlong.