CLANDESTINE MARRIAGE. A marriage contracted without the due observance of ecclesiastical ceremonies, even where concealment was not the chief or only object of the parties, is generally called a clandestine marriage. But, in Scotland, a distinction is made between marriages which are clandestine, and those which are simply irregular. All marriages which are not celebrated by a clergyman after proclamation of bans are irregular, and such of these irregular marriages as are entered into before a person pro fessing to act as a religious celebrator, without being a minister of religion, are clan destine, and expose the parties, the Celebrator, and wit?esseS to certain penalties.
These penalties may be recovered before justices of the peace, on complaint by the fiscal; and the proceeding is not without some advantage to the parties, as the convic tion is received as evidence of the marriage. In the eye of the law, clandestine and irregular marriages in Scotland are as valid as those in the face of the church, provided they be of such a kind as to establish the consent of the parties to become man and wife in point of fact. But, notwithstanding the existence of this rule of the civil law, marriages in Scotland, in any other form than in facie ecclesim, are practically of very rare occurrence. Persons convicted before a magistrate of an irregular marriage are
required to register such marriage, and the magistrate is bound to give notice of the conviction to the registrar; and if the irregular marriage is established in a competent court, the clerk of the court is give notice (17 and 18 Vict. c. 80). To put a stop to Englishmen crossing the border, merely in order to celebrate irregular marriages, it was enacted by 19 and 20 Vict. c. 96, "that after the 31st Dec. 1856, no irregular mar riage shall be valid in Scotland, unless one of the parties has lived in Scotland for the 21 days next preceding the marriage, or has his or her usual residence there at the time." It is further enacted, that the parties to such a marriage may apply within three months, jointly, to the sheriff or sheriff-substitute of the county, for a warrant to register it. Upon proof that one of them had lived for 21 days, or usually resided in Scotland, and that they have contracted marriage, the sheriff is to grant a warrant to the registrar of the parish to record the marriage. A certified copy of the entry, signed by the registrar, which he must give for 5s., is declared to be evidence of a valid marriage.