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1606 - 1606
punishment for fornication under promise of marriage by kirk session of Dundonald

The Reformed Church  viewed all sex outside marriage as sinful. However, sex by couples who were betrothed or who intended to get married was often punished less severely than fornication between those who were not intending to marry, as is shown in this example from the Dundonald Kirk Session. Medieval marriage law, much of which continued to apply in Scotland after the Reformation of 1560, recognised marriages made by couples who used words of future consent ie 'I will marry you' as legal if these vows were followed by consummation, so it is possible that this couple had already contracted what became known as an 'irregular marriage' ie not performed in a church and witnessed by a priest. The Scots version of the document follows the translation.


6 April 1606 Kirk session of Dundonald

The which day, James Cander younger and Agnes Wan in Milnemess, appearing before the Session, confessed their meddling together in fornication but [it was done] under promise of marriage, which they intend and promise, God willing, to perform; in respect whereof  the Session received from them both 13s 4d and ordains them to make their repentance before the pulpit

 The quhilk day James Cander, younger, and Agnes Wan in Milnemoss, compeirand beffoir the Session, confessit thair medling togidder in fornicatioun but vnder promeise of mariage quhilk they purpose and promeise, God willing, to perform; in respect quhairof the Sessioun ressaweit only of thame baith xiiis iiiid vnlaw and ordains thame to mak thair repentance befoir the pulpit.



The Session Book of Dundonald 1602-1731 transcribed Henry Paton (Private Circulation, 1836), 101-2. Translation by E. Ewan

Tags: Dundonald