Early Massachusetts Marriage Rate

Submitted By lildutchessgirl
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Pages: 3

The people of Massachusetts had a higher marriage rate than other settlers at the time. Most societies had very high proportions of people who had never married at all. The settlers in Massachusetts called ladies who had not married by thirty “thornbacks”. It was also believed that if one did not marry, it was a sign of God’s ill favor upon them. Therefore, there was a very high incentive to marry in ones’ life in Massachusetts.
Marriage in the Massachusetts area was considered a civil contract and not a sacred union like the Anglicans and the Church of England believed. The Church of England and the Anglicans believed that it was a sacred knot that was firmly tied and could not be undone by mortal hands. Meanwhile, Puritans did not believe marriage to be religious but only an agreement between two people. Therefore they believed that divorce was lawful because it was not anything under God. If the terms of the marriage covenant were broken, then the union could be ended by divorce. Divorce was not an option for Anglicans and members of the Church of England.
Puritans also believed that love should precede marriage. They believed in true love and that this love should always be present before the marriage. If a daughter did not truly love the suitor who was following after her, usually the Puritan parents did not push their daughter to marry that man anymore. East Anglican Mary Josselin refused a suitor she had received because he was “not loving” (Mass. Marriage Ways Packet, pg 2) and her father respected this and did not force her to marry him, as much as he wanted her to be married off to him. Courtship rituals were designed to promote love between the suitor and the lady.
The courtship was a slow process, a long enough time for the lady and the suitor to fall in love. The suitor would bring presents, after asking permission of the lady’s parents first. To test to see if the couple truly loved each other, and being given privacy, the couple went to bed together with a “bundling board” between then or sometimes a “bundling stocking” which bound the woman’s legs together. These inventions were helpful because it combined the freewill of the young and the strict supervision of the adults.
The Massachusetts colony is superior to other colonies for quite a few reasons. Unlike The Quakers and the Virginians, the Massachusetts area believed in true love and did not