Never on a Sunday by Ellen Maki, Ph.D.

Have you ever wondered what day of the week your great-grandparents married on? Did our ancestors, like many of us nowadays, favour June weddings? I was curious, so I decided to take a look at the marriages in the parish of some of my ancestors to see what was popular a hundred years ago.

Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, England is a small parish in rural East Anglia. Between 1811 and 1901 its total population fluctuated between a low of 218 and a high of 333. During the time period from 1 January 1753 to 31 December 1900, there was a total of 272 marriages.

Given that farming and agriculture were the dominant industries in the region, it should not be too surprising to learn that, in Baconsthorpe, marriages during the summer months were relatively rare. The most common months for marriages were October, November, and December, when just over 50% of weddings took place. No June weddings for my labouring ancestors, then.

Month Histogram with caption

I’ve read that Christmas day was popular for weddings because couples in service usually had the day off. It was not a favourite in Baconsthorpe, though: less than 2% of couples had a yuletide ceremony. Nor was Valentine’s a much sought-after wedding day. The Baconsthorpe parish registers recorded only 1 such marriage in the span of 147 years.

These days, advance booking is a requisite for couples hoping to marry on a Saturday. But a century ago, the most in-demand day of the week for a wedding service was Monday. In fact, marriages on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday accounted for 62% of the nuptials that took place in Baconsthorpe.

Weekday Pie Chart with caption

Saturday weddings were most certainly not in vogue: they accounted for a meager 8% of Baconsthorpe’s marriages between 1753 and 1900.

Baconsthorpe may or may not be representative of the rest of the United Kingdom when it comes to choosing a wedding date. More industrialised areas, or even other agricultural areas, may well have had different trends for marriages. When did your ancestors marry?

Sources:

  1. University of Portsmouth. GB Historical GIS. A Vision of Britain Through Time. Baconsthorpe Total Population. http://URL: http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10124062/cube/TOT_POP : accessed 26 August 2016.
  2. Baconsthorpe parish registers. Microform publication. Original at Norfolk Record Office, Norwich, Norfolk, UK.
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