Marriage: the vow to obey

During the debate following the Second Reading of the Married Women's Property Acts Consolidation Bill on 9 June 1880, Charles Warton MP remarked that:

'Before the existence of the feudal law -- in fact, when marriage was established by God -- it was ordained that wives should obey their husbands, although some of them, he was sorry to say, were not so obedient as they ought to be.'Source: Hansard

Mrs A. E. Smith, writing in the Woman's Signal (23 March 1899) said: 'Men and only men have written commentaries and interpreted the Bible for centuries and the man-made doctrine of the subjection of women they have most carefully preserved out of the superstitions of the past. Let women think for themselves and decline to be ruled any longer... If women would refuse to repeat the marriage vow as it now stands and has been forced on them for centuries past they would gain immensely in the respect of men.'

It was reported in 1891 that Lady Cecilia Howard omitted the voy to obey when she married Mr C. H. Roberts at Lanercrost Abbey in Morpeth.

The Woman's Signal, 9 February 1899