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Has anyone heard of objections to banns of marriage?

07 June 2019

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below.


Does any reader recall an instance of someone “forbidding the banns” in church — in real life rather than in fiction? If so, how was the objector dealt with, and what was the outcome?


Your answers: I have two stories that may be of relevance.

The first is from the banns book of St Michael’s, Bramcote, Nottingham. It was recorded that banns were objected by the parents of a girl who was under 21. (Written parental consent for a minor was not legally required as it was assumed in the 19th century that parents would attend church.) Their objection was upheld. Some time later, it was recorded that she married a different man.

Second, my own experience did not involve objection to banns, but at the appropriate point in the marriage ceremony when I stated, “Therefore if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else for ever hold his peace.”

The bride’s father (who had declined to give her away) was sitting in the congregation, got up, and walked out; but he made no legal objection.

(The Revd) Jimmy Hamilton-Brown
Winterborne Stickland, Dorset


A year ago, as a relatively freshly minted curate, I had just that week had training on marriage and canon law.

Whilst reading the banns with a congregation of 200-plus present, the moment of truth arrived, and my own nine-year-old child, from the front row, shouted at the top of his voice, for no discernible reason whatsoever, “I object.” After a brief but audible collective gasp, I took the matter firmly in hand, publicly refuted his objection, and proceedings continued.

At the end of the service, I explained to him that if anyone wanted to make an objection to a forthcoming marriage, they needed to lodge a financial bond with the priest. It had been my son’s birthday that week, and, having had a party at which the main gifts were cash, he was the proud owner of the princely sum of £160. I explained to him that he could uphold his objection to the banns of marriage for this poor couple, but it would cost him £160. His objection was quickly withdrawn, and as punishment, he agreed to forgo cake and sweets for the remainder of the day.

The couple are, as far as I am aware, now happily married.

(The Revd) Joy French
Owlerton, Sheffield


The vicar in whose parish I resided in 1990 was vehemently against remarriage in church — a view that I respected — and on those grounds he said he would not publish our banns. We were offered a Bishop’s Licence so that our wedding could take place, but I hoped to make a stand, for the sake of others in his parish.

Fortunately, his churchwarden (a friend of ours) was a matrimonial solicitor. He provided both the Vicar and us with copies of the Marriage Act, in which it clearly states that an incumbent has a legal duty to call banns, even if he won’t allow the marriage. The outcome was that our banns were called, in isolation, by the churchwarden at Morning Prayer, and a certificate was eventually issued so that our marriage could take place, which it did in April 1990. We are still happily together.

P. A. Pringle
North Lincolnshire


Your question: Is there anywhere in the Bible which clearly states why God created a world that had the potential to get into the present mess? Or is that something we have to work out for ourselves?

B. A.


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