View Full Version : Age differences in bride and groom

Karen Norwillo
23-01-18, 04:52
Just out of curiosity, I have come across several instances where the groom is much younger than the bride. I understand the reverse when the widowed man needs someone to help raise his children:D Case in point, Eric Johansson Söder Kultalax 1805 married widow Lisa Henricdotter of Lahdén in Lappo. She was a recent widow born 1784. That's 21 years. Was this common? :confused:

23-01-18, 06:15
More common than you'd initially think, perhaps. A widow with young children would desperately need someone to help work on the farm and raise them, especially, so you'd think there's mostly just work involved. But a widow also has certain rights to the house and property, and might be in possession of a household and a so far successful farm. If you marry her you get your share of this farmland, and if the widow still can have children or if she dies much before you as the case may be, perhaps even have your own children inherit the land. In any case it is a promise of a stable life. Suddenly it doesn't look that bad for business, does it? Especially if you are not in line to inherit your own home farm, a promise of a stable homestead is quite attractive. No uncertainty or having to toil your life away in service to every house in the village.

Widows were actually sometimes known to organize a third party to look for suitable suitors and be quite picky, because they knew what they had going and now that they had the chances to choose for themselves who to marry (love marriages weren't all that unusual actually, but usually the family ultimately played a big role in the decision).

In general, however, unless you had adult children who were there to take care of you, it was always better to be together with someone. So most people arranged themselves some company if they could.

Karen Norwillo
23-01-18, 16:32
Thanks. I kind of thought that might be the case, especially as Eric had a few older brothers and wouldn't "inherit the family farm."

23-01-18, 22:23
If you, or anyone else, gets the chance to obtain a translation of Piikojen valtakunta - Nainen, työ ja perhe 1600-1700-luvuilla (The Kingdom of Maids - Woman, work and family in the 17th and 18th centuries) by Tiina Miettinen, I warmly recommend it. It is a study about the status of especially lower class women's lives in Finland's rural society and how and when they held power in their communities. It is insightful and has loads of stories plucked from records to illustrate the writer's points.

It for example points out differences between the classes, and how the maids and other servants, while poor, could also attain a range of freedom and even power within a household. It also really gives context to how people approached love and marriage and relationships back in the day in Finland. It also handles darker subjects like how miscarriages were handled. I have personal experience with a case from 1860s, which had quite an invasive investigation.