The following is a crossover post from my author blog. It was originally posted March 29, 2009.
Good grief! There is a reason I never considered becoming a lawyer. I hate law books.
Legal age of adulthood in Regency England: I've heard 21 or 25, male or female; I've heard 21 for men; 25 for women. Everyone seems to have a different idea.
If I understand A Compendious and Comprehensive Law Dictionary By Thomas Walter Williams (1816) correctly, the legal age of adulthood was 21, male or female. At 21, a person was old enough, by law, to marry without parental consent. They were also allowed to do whatever they want with whatever unentailed properties they owned. This seems to be true of women, but somewhere I read that women never got the total freedom with their property that men did. I'll be looking into this some more...
If I got this wrong, feel free to correct me.
Why I decided to re-post this here:
This has something to do with Betrayal insomuch as the heroine is under 21. Thus, she is a minor under the law. Her guardian, in this case her uncle, would have power over her money as well as who and when she'd marry.
And despite the popularity of such a storyline, running off to Gretna Green would have done no good. Under the law, her uncle would have been able to dissolve the union.