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Among upper classes, marriages were still arranged between people of similar levels of wealth and social status.When a suitable husband was found, the woman’s father paid the groom’s family a dowry in exchange for his daughter’s hand in marriage.The higher a Colonial family’s status, the greater the pressure for their children to “marry well.” At stake were the survival and consolidation of the family’s power and prosperity.An interesting aspect of courtship in Colonial days was “bundling,” in which a courting man and woman would share a bed, fully clothed and often with a “bundling board” between them.Servants falling in love while working at the same great house was typically not allowed.They would have to leave service (sometimes both of them, sometimes only the woman) and often without character references that would help them get another job.During the difficult economic era of the Depression, many couples remained engaged for several years, wanting to wait until they were self-supporting before marrying. In contrast, the WWII era saw many couples get married on the spur of the moment, or after only a very short courtship, as men went off to war. This haste probably contributed to a very sharp increase in the divorce rate right after the war.
In order to court a young lady, a gentleman followed strict protocol.An 18 By the mid-1800s, pioneers pushing west on the North American continent were finding a serious shortage of available women in their frontier towns.Courtship turned a different page as men advertised for wives in newspapers, as portrayed in the book and movie “Any gal that got a bed, calico dress, coffee pot and skillet, knows how to cut out britches and can make a hunting shirt, knows how to take care of children can have my services till death do us part.” The Victorian Era in England was about proper etiquette, manners, and respectability.Henry VIII betrothed his 2-year-old daughter, Mary Tudor, to the infant Dauphin of France.When that fell through, she was again promised at the age of 6 to her cousin, 22-year-old Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.