THE CUSTOM of eloping to Gretna Green came out of the differences in marriage law between England and Scotland. In England you needed to apply for the license, then wait several weeks while the Banns were read several times to give everyone a chance to object, then you could go to the church and get married. . . You could short circuit this by getting a "special License" which was quite expensive; *or* you could high tail it to Scotland where the law allowed for people to marry themselves by reciting their vows in public in front of witnesses, (not the preferred form but an *allowed* form of marriage rite). It just so happened that the Blacksmith's shop was convenient to the border and the smith and striker were on hand as witnesses.
THUS the custom of being married over the anvil at Gretna Green.
Based on my recollections from What Jane Austin Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, The Facts About Daily Life in 19th Century England.
Jim Paw-Paw Wilson
Copyright © 2001 Jim Wilson