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Respectful Records

By Annie Lévy - (GenAmi no 26, December 2003)

We noticed that all the old marriage certificates mentioned the agreement of the parents even if the groom was over 21yrs and therefore not a minor.

In fact, when it was first introduced in the XIX century the civil code stated that parental permission was required up to 25yrs for a man. On the other hand at least one parent’s permission was required for a woman up to 21yrs of age for a marriage to take place.

If the couple were over the age of consent they could marry without parental permission but not until they had notified them of their intention to marry by way of a notarised ‘respectful record’.

The civil code detailed the procedure to be followed, the act was to be done by two notaries or 1 notary with two witnesses. In the event of the parents refusing permission the request was to be made again each month for 2 months before the marriage could take place.

However if the groom was over 30yrs and the bride over 25yrs one Respectful Record was enough and one month after a refusal the marriage could take place without the parents’ permission.

These restrictions were reduced from the end of the XIX century but did not completely disappear until 1933.

I discovered this after hearing of the existence of such an act dated 1828 concerning the brother of one of my ancestors. I found this record in Moselle AD.

This great great uncle called Abraham Lazard born in 1789 Frauenburg (Moselle) was 39yrs old living in Bar-le-Duc and wanted to marry a Miss Oudinot (perhaps related to Marshal Oudinot (1767-1847) from Bar-le-Duc?), his father was living in Frauenburg.

The record written by a notary of Sarreguemines, comprises of a first part in which Abraham respectfully ‘requires’ his father’s council for his proposed marriage to Marguerite Oudinot a young lady and the signatures of the notary, witnesses and of Abraham.

In the second part of the record the notary assisted by two witnesses was taken to the Frauenberg residence of the father. The notary and the witnesses notified him of the Respectful Act addressed to him by Mr Abraham Lazard. Following this the father refuses permission stating it is useless to deal with foreigners who require a signature. He gave no further explanation.

Obviously one can suppose that the problem was that of religion and that was the cause of the refusal.

Considering Abraham’s age, one respectful record was enough and although I have not been to Meuse Archives to discover what happened next I would bet that the marriage took place a month later.