Wednesday, September 05, 2007


While I was working on Bride of the Solway, I had to do quite a lot of research about marriage in Scotland, including the inside story about Gretna Green elopements and exactly how the knot was tied. Sadly, it wasn’t done by the blacksmith over his anvil. But the truth was just as outrageous in Regency eyes.

We tend to think that elopements were only to Gretna Green. They didn’t have to be. The same marriage laws applied throughout Scotland. However, Gretna and villages just over the Border did make something of a business of quick and clandestine marriages. In Bride of the Solway, the marriage is arranged by ‘Bishop’ Lang in The King’s Head in Springfield, a tiny village only a few hundred yards from the border with England. ‘Bishop’ Lang was a real character of the time, looking and operating much as I have described. He encouraged eloping couples to believe that they needed him to take their declarations and to issue a kind of ‘marriage certificate’. In fact, the marriage was quite legal without it, but few of them would have had time to question him, especially if an irate father was close on their heels. So they took his advice, went through his ‘marriage ceremony’, got their certificate and – most importantly – paid Lang extremely well for his trouble.

This is what The King’s Head looks like now, though you may notice one interesting change, if your eyesight is good enough. Find out more about it, and read some of the true stories about runaway marriages, and about the perils of crossing the Solway on foot, on the updated research snippets page of my website. You may be surprised to learn, as I was, that Lady Jersey, the Queen of Regency Society, had more than one Gretna skeleton in her cupboard.

Best wishes

Bride of the Solway is available, at a 25% discount until end September, from the Mills & Boon store

Also available from Amazon

1 comment:

Lori said...

I really enjoyed this entry and the link you provided. This is a subject I've wanted to learn more about.