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In the early modern era there was a stress on a wife's duties to her husband and on the virtues of chastity and obedience.How exactly patriarchy worked in practice is difficult to discern.The Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 is the main current legislation regulating marriage.The Marriage (Scotland) Act 2002 extends the availability of civil marriages to "approved places" in addition to Register Offices and any other place used in exceptional circumstances; religious marriages in Scotland have never been restricted by location.However, in Scotland it was possible for boys to get married at 14 years and girls at 12 years without parental consent.Some Gretna marriages were of (sometimes abducted) heiresses; e.g., the second marriage in 1826 of Edward Gibbon Wakefield to the young heiress Ellen Turner, the Shrigley abduction.An irregular marriage could result from mutual agreement, by a public promise followed by consummation, or by cohabitation and repute.

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(Foreign divorces are generally recognised, but existing foreign polygamous marriages prevent a marriage in Scotland as this would be treated as bigamy). Under Scots law, one may not marry one's: The list of proscribed affinities was reduced in the early twentieth century by the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act 1907, the Deceased Brother's Widow's Marriage Act 1921 and the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Relationship Act 1931.Scottish women in this period had something of a reputation among foreign observers for being forthright individuals, with the Spanish ambassador to the court of James IV noting that they were "absolute mistresses of their houses and even their husbands".Before the Reformation, the extensive marriage bars for kinship meant that most noble marriages necessitated a papal dispensation, which could later be used as grounds for annulment if the marriage proved politically or personally inconvenient, although there was no divorce as such.A marriage by "cohabitation with repute" as it was known in Scots Law could still be formed; popularly described as "by habit and repute", with repute being the crucial element to be proved.In 2006, Scotland was the last European jurisdiction to abolish this old style common-law marriage or "marriage by cohabitation with repute", by the passing of the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006.Other motives for Gretna marriages were to avoid publicity or to marry immediately.In 1856, Scottish law was changed to require 21 days' residence for marriage, and since 1929 both parties have had to be at least 16 years old (though there is still no parental consent needed).Prior to this act, any citizen was able to witness a public promise.The tradition of eloping English couples searching for blacksmiths resulted legally from the fact that blacksmiths were necessarily citizens and could often be recognised by strangers by their presence at their forge.These differences led to a tradition of couples from England and Wales eloping to Scotland, most famously to marry at border towns such as Gretna Green.The legal minimum age to enter into a marriage in Scotland is sixteen years and does not require parental consent at any age.

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