Wedding in the Temple Church

(Important in The Mistaken Wife)

Middle Temple and Inner Temple are two of the four ‘inns of court’ (the others are Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn) responsible for the training and regulation of English barristers.  While the other Inns probably began life as private residences, ‘The Temple’ had been the headquarters of the Knights Templar in England until the Order was dissolved in 1312.   The former Templar lands were given to the Knights Hospitaller, and they leased the Temple to groups of lawyers and judges.  The Temple Church remained in the possession of the Hospitallers until 1540, and when James I granted charters to the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple and the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, respectively, their shared use of the church was also granted in perpetuity.  The Temple Church is a Peculiar, meaning that it is exempt from the bishop’s jurisdiction.  In most peculiars this exemption is relevant in respect of marriages, probate, and ecclesiastical discipline, but only the latter seems to have been exercised by the Templars or Hospitallers.  Marriages were celebrated in the church, however, from 1628 – often without the necessary formalities.  These ‘lawless’ marriages were prohibited in 1754 by Lord Hardwicke’s Act, which required either the publication of banns or a special licence from the archbishop of Canterbury.  The register records one marriage by special licence in 1755, another in 1760, and then none until 1865.  As Mary Finch’s marriage was founded upon a forged special licence, it is no wonder that no record of it remains.