Courting Behaviors: Talking, Tokens, and Touching

  • Loreen L. Giese


While chapters 1 and 2 focus on issues central to the making of marriage—choice and the assessment of suitability—this chapter considers courting behaviors, which might be thought peripheral but can be shown to be crucial evidence for the interpretation of intent and consent.1 In some cases, deponents did not detail the specific behaviors. Ann Hewse, for instance, testified that Edmund Ellice “made greate meanes to obteyne … [Margaret’s] love in the waye of marriadge” (DL/C/213/149) but did not recount what the “greate meanes” were. However, in many other cases, litigants and witnesses did identify the specific courtship behaviors and occasionally mentioned as well the locations at which couples courted. Agnes Newman’s account of the wooing of Robert Chapman includes many of the behaviors deponents cited. As Agnes, a “servaunt in an Alehowse in Holborn,” went “upp and downe the howse abowt her busynes,” Robert would “Drinke to her, and fall a iestinge with her after a kynd of love sorte.” In addition to his “frequenting” the alehouse, drinking to her, and displaying affection, she recounted other proof of his interest in her, such as “famyliaritye,” “comunicacion or conferannce” of marriage, and giving gifts (DL/C/ 213/416).


Court Behavior Sexual Force Gender Imbalance Gift Exchange Individual Consent 
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© Loreen L. Giese 2006

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  • Loreen L. Giese

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