Marriage Act, 1725



An Act to prevent marriages by degraded clergymen and popish priests, and for preventing marriages consummated from being avoided by precontracts, and for the more effectual punishing of bigamy.

Popish priests, &c. or degraded or pretended clergyman of the church of Ireland, celebrating marriage between protestants or so reputed, or a protestant and papist, felony without clergy.

6 Anne 16.

19 G. 2. 13.

the marriage void, if by popish priest.

23 G. 2. 10.

yet felony in him.

WHEREAS clandestine marriages are for the most part celebrated by popish priests and degraded clergymen, to the manifest ruin of several families within this kingdom: for remedy whereof be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That if any popish priest, or reputed popish priest, or person pretending to be a popish priest, or any degraded clergyman, or any layman, pretending to be a clergyman of the church of Ireland as by law established, shall after the twenty fifth day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty six celebrate, or take upon him to celebrate, any marriage between two protestants, or reputed protestants, or between a protestant or reputed protestant and a papist, such popish priest, or reputed popish priest, and such degraded clergyman, and layman, pretending to be a clergyman, shall be, and is hereby declared to be, guilty of felony, and shall suffer death as a felon without benefit of the clergy or of the statute.([1] )


33 H. 8. 6. sess. 1.

no contract of marriage only, not consummated, shall avoid subsequent marriage consummated.

IV. And whereas some doubts have arisen, whether marriages consummated by carnal knowledge can be avoided by precontracts without consummation, which has been the ground of many vexatious suits: for remedy whereof, and to prevent all doubts concerning the same for the future, be it enacted and declared, That no contract of marriage only, not consummated by the carnal knowledge of the parties, shall be of any force towards making void a subsequent marriage consummated by such carnal knowledge.

[1So much of this Act as exclusively affects a Roman Catholic Clergyman celebrating the marriages herein specified is repealed by 3 & 4 Will. 4. c. 102. s. 1.So much as enacts that the offender shall suffer death is amended by 5 & 6 Vict. c. 28. s. 1.See also 33 & 34 Vict. c. 110. ss. 32, 33, 38–40.]