Petition from inhabitants of Tryon County concerning North Carolina marriage laws and fees of public officials
The petition of the inhabitants of Tryon County, being of the Presbyterian denomination, humbly showeth that we your petitioners humbly conceive that we have been much aggrieved for some years last past by an act concerning marriages.
1. By the preamble wherein it is set forth that the ministers of our profession not considering themselves included and restrained by the laws theretofore made and provided, did fraudulently and unlawfully celebrate marriage without license or publication of banns. This charge we do aver is wrongfully thrown upon us. We are sorry that a report so scandalous to us and injurious to that reputation we desire always to maintain has ever once been believed. The practice had not then, nor at any other time before obtained among us. The constitution of our church requires thrice the publication of banns, in common with our brethren of the Church of England; and if any minister presumes to join persons in wedlock without license or publication of banns he brings himself under the penalty of total suspension from his office by the rules of our church.
2d By the eighth and ninth sections of this act our ministers are forbid to marry with rightful publication of banns—a privilege which a million of our fellow professors in America now enjoy, whose ancestors have enjoyed ever since they settled on this continent; neither was it ever taken from dissenters in America until it was taken from us by this act of which we now complain. We pray and beseech you, therefore, to restore us back to the enjoyment of this privilege, in common with our neighboring provinces. Let us not, we intreat, be the only persons to whom it is denied. Our hopes, trust and confidence is that in your wisdom, after due consideration had, you will alter the several clauses complained of, and permit our clergy to celebrate marriage, with publication of banns, and your petitioners as in duty bound shall ever pray.