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As the number of non-Anglicans increasingly migrated to North Carolina, they demanded to have their own ministers performing marriage ceremonies.
Although the governors and the Assembly did not mind denominational and “dissenting” ministers solemnizing marriages–as long as proper fees were paid and collected–the Church of England strongly defended its monopoly. Drage reported from his parish in Salisbury that there were “Irish Dissenters” and other “motly mixture[s]” who predominated in local government and wanted to “publish [banns] and marry by their own clergy, an act directly leveled at the constitution, contrary to the original and subsequent charters.” Successive governors wanted to ensure that proper fees were paid, regardless who married the consenting couples.
In the colony, such regulation was necessary because the process of inheritance depended on the legitimacy of children.
In addition, the church and the state had an interest in preventing bigamous marriages or marriages that fell within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity (kinship).
Ministers often solemnized marriages without licenses according to the customs of their denomination, but magistrates performed marriages on an oral assurance that banns had been read; and in rural areas, where neither minister nor magistrate was easily reached, people entered into marriages following their needs and traditions.
Following the Civil War and the abolition of slavery, the North Carolina General Assembly passed An Act Concerning Negroes and Persons of Color or of Mixed Blood (1866) to validate the marriages of former slaves.
The story of how childhood sweethearts Mildred and Richard Loving brought about one of the most important US legal rulings of the 20th century is a long one — and one that did not begin with them and their case.
"Anti-miscegenation laws" — specific laws that prohibited marriage between people of different races — have a long and brutal history in the US that reaches back to the colonial era; a history that we're still fighting today.
But it is true; and the fact that we're only a generation removed from a time when people were locked up, fined and exiled for daring to marry or cohabit with somebody of a different race is one of the most glaring examples of the racism that runs deep throughout our country's foundations.
The license became the only official public record of marriage.
The Registers of Deeds kept consistently good books, and the recording of marriages became widespread.
Under English law, which prevailed throughout the Lords Proprietors’ domain, only Church of England ministers could legally perform marriage rites. Accordingly, the Assembly in Albemarle, in its 1669-1670 session, passed An Act Concerning Marriages, which provided that, in the absence of a minister, a couple could wed in the presence of “three or fower of their Neighbors” before the governor or a councilor.
After “declareing that they do joyne together in the holy state of Wedlock And doe accept one the other for man and wife,” they received a certificate and the marriage was registered in the Secretary’s office.