LONDON-L ArchivesArchiver > LONDON > 2002-04 > 1018957328
From: Alison Causton <>
Subject: Re: [Lon] Marriage to deceased wife's sister [Was: Cousin marriages]
Date: Tue, 16 Apr 2002 07:42:08 -0400
References: <BOEKJEFGLGNMJLOJNAKLIEKHCJAA.firstname.lastname@example.org> <04ae01c1e504$b8c2f960$c11308d2@ibmbn1v2dn> <email@example.com>
Richard Carruthers-Zurowski wrote:
> In the Book of Common Prayer, there is a section outlining the degrees of
> relationship within which it was forbidden in the laws of Church and State
> to marry. This is known as the Table of Kindred and Affinity. One of the
> results was that it was against the law for many years for a man to marry
> his deceased wife's sister, something which even made it into a Gilbert and
> Sullivan song, "puncture that annual blister, marriage to deceased wife's
> sister", an allusion to the struggle to get a law through parliament to
> abolish the Prayer Book and legal prohibition, based, in part, on Leviticus.
> This was not successful til the second decade of the 20th century....
Both civil & canon law prohibited such marriages in Ontario and Québec.
The law changed in 1883, permitting a man to marry his late wife's
sister. A woman would not be accorded the same privilege until decades
A lengthy & comprehensive article about the history of this law in
Canada concludes with the following footnote about the law in the U.K.:
"Agitation for relaxation of that rule intensified in England in the
19th century. A Royal Commission appointed in England in 1847 recognized
that it was common for the sister of a deceased mother to assume her
sisters place "in the care of the children, and in the superintendence
of the domestic establishment". The sister of a deceased mother seemed
to the Commission to be "above all persons" qualified to supply the
vacancy in the family. The Commission left "to the wisdom of the
Legislature" whether the law should be relaxed or strengthened. It would
be 60 years before the law was changed. Several bills to reform the law
were introduced but none passed until 1907 when the Deceased Wifes
SistersMarriage Act, 1907, 7 Edw. 7, c. 47 was adopted."
Source: "Federal Marriage Legislation", by Hon. Ronald C. Stevenson, in
the periodical, Canadian Parliamentary Review, vol 20 no. 1, 1997. You
can read it at the following URL:
This article is about the fourth or fifth article, scrolling down. Be
forewarned, however, the page contains several, length articles and
takes a few minutes to load.
|Re: [Lon] Marriage to deceased wife's sister [Was: Cousin marriages] by Alison Causton <>|