Whereas Joseph Stackhous (Son of Thomas Stackhous) of Middletownship in the County of Bucks and Province of Pensilvania & Sarah Coupland Daughter of William Coupland of the County of Chester and Province aforesaid; Having Published their intentions of Marriage with Each other before several Monthly Meetings of the People Called Quakers in Middletownship and County aforesaid whose Proceedings therein afford a Deliberate Consideration thereof and having Consent of Parents and Relations Concern’d their said Proposals of Marriage were allowed of by the said Meetings.
Now these are to Certifie all whome it may Concern that for the full accomplishment of their said Intentions this twentieth day of the third month Anno: Dom’ one thousand seven Hundred and twenty five they the said Joseph Stackhous and Sarah Coupland appeared in a Publick Assembly of the aforesaid People mett together at their Usual Meeting hous in Middletownship aforesaid and the said Joseph Stackhous taking the said Sarah Coupland by the hand Did in a solemn manner openly Declare that he took her to be his wife Promissing through the Lords assistance to be unto her a Loving and faithful Husband until Death Should separate them; and then and there in the said assembley the said Sarah Coupland did in like manner Declare that she took the said Joseph Stackhous to be her Husband Promising through the Lords assistance to be unto him a Loving and Faithfull wife until Death should Separate them: and moreover they the said Joseph Stackhous and Sarah Coupland (she according to the custom of marriage assuming the name of her Husband) as a further Confirmation thereof Did then and there to these presents set their hands and we whose names are hereunder subscribed being amongst others Present at the solemnization of their said marriage and subscription in manner aforesaid Have as witnesses hereunto set our hands the day and year above written
Joseph Stackhous Sarah Stackhous Tho Chalkley Isaac Penington Agnes Coupland Thomas Stackhous Joseph J. Wil..? Jos Growden, Jun Margreat Coupland William Coupland Thomas Baynes Benj Field Marcy Coupland Jos. A Coupland Wm. Robertson?? Jo? Stapler Alis Heaton Henry Comly William Paxson William Biles Kathrin Pattison Robert Heaton Jos. Growden Thomas Th..? Dorothy Ashton John Stackhous James Thackery Samuel ..? Agnes Penquite Jacob Wilson Ezra Croasdale Grace Biles Mary Paxson Thomas Pattison Phillip Hog ? Susannah..? Phebe Stockdell Thomas ..son, jn Adam Harker Ann Biles Agnes Penquite Euclydus Longshore Thomas Gill Lanslot Gibson Grace Harker John Plumly Anne Doane Mary Plumly Thomas L Loyd Susannah H... …? Biles …? Staples Eliz Harding …..?……. Agnes Stackhous
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Note: The language of the certificate developed in England when the established church was the only institution with official power to legalize marriages. Since Friends refused to recognize that any institution created by humans could create marriages, which Friends felt could only be created by God, Friends refused to participate in marriage ceremonies officiated by other churches. Instead they developed their own quasi-legal document that was signed by those present at the meeting for worship in which the couple declared their marriage vows to each other. The language of these Quaker marriage certificates changed very little until the last quarter of the twentieth century--and is still used by some Friends.
Although there are parts of the above certificate reminiscent of Protestant marriages, such as an equivalent to announcing banns several times at monthly meetings in advance of the wedding date, there are some marked differences. One is the assumption that men and women are equal. A woman was not a chattel to be given by her father to her husband. The vows of each were the same. There is no female promise to obey the male.
The placement of the signatures has some significance, but the custom was not universally and exactly followed. However, the married couple signed first, on the right side. Below them, in the extreme right column, were usually their parents, siblings, and other close family members. The extreme left column was often the more weighty Friends, who may or may not have been close family friends, and may have been visiting ministers from other meetings (such as Thomas Chalkley, and Thomas L. Lloyd above). Of the two middle columns, usually the left one was mostly men and the right one was mostly women, who were members of the local meeting, neighbors, cousins, and F/friends. But as you can see, these two center columns are the least prescribed.
See other notes, on Friends' and Old Style Dating, or scenes in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, that might have been familiar to Friends living there in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Return to the Stackhouse page.This page was first posted 23 July 2005, updated 7/24/2015.