The Elizabethan ‘Suter’

Catherine Meyrick

Elizabethan Courtship

In the 16th century, marriage was not a purely personal affair but rather a group effort involving acquaintances, friends or family members. So when a young man or woman or, more often, their parents decided it was time to marry, the first step was to find a suitable spouse. After determining that there was no one nearby who possessed the qualities wanted in a spouse, family and friends would be called upon to help locate and investigate suitable prospects further afield. These intermediaries or go-betweens were not described as such but rather as a suitors or messengers on behalf of the  interested party, – ‘indifferent men sent to enquire what she was to see if she was fite to match‘.

At the more elevated levels of society, the intermediary would be a patron, a well-connected family member, or even a lawyer who would begin the investigation and…

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