young marriage #general

Herbert Lazerow

my great-grandparents, ... got married when she was 12 or 13. Was
this normal in small Ukrainian
villages? In Odessa?
Absolutely not. Of more than 3,000 marriages in Nezhin
Ukraine 1860-1918, none purported to be between persons less than 16 years old.
No man was married under age 18 during this time. Around
1.5% of the women first married at age 16 in the 1860s and 1890s, and
less than 1% in the other decades. 10.4% of the women first married
at age 17 in the 1860s; 4.5% in the 1870s; and 2% or less in each
decade thereafter.
It is possible that your grandparents were engaged at a
young age. I have the impression that this occurred, and engagement
in those days might have been so serious a contractual arrangement
that it required a divorce to dissolve; there is one 1880s divorce
that states that the woman was 13, and I could find no record of her
having previously married in that town. (She might have married
elsewhere.) I do not believe that engagement in those days came with
sleeping privileges.
Herbert Lazerow
San Diego CA

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