This guest blog post is thanks to Chelsea Harkins, Regent Law 2L and Oxford RSG Summer Program student:
Charlecote Park, Warwickshire, England: The beautiful grounds, serene location and nature surrounding this lovely home, were appealing at first glance. Now, being a home of The National Trust, Charlecote Park has history that runs within its ownership and familial lines. Sir Thomas Lucy came from a wealthy middle-class family and was knighted by one of the queen's favorite men, Robert Dudley, in 1565. Lucy built the home in 1558 and also later served as a member of the Parliament House after his election in 1571. Lucy married Joyce Acton, daughter and heiress of Thomas Acton of Sutton, Worcestershire. The marriage was arranged and both were very young, marrying at ages 12 and 14 years old. It is said that in 1572, Queen Elizabeth I herself visited Charlecote Park, staying in what is now known as the Drawing Room. It is also rumored that William Shakespeare poached rabbits on the land there.
When the young bride and heiress, Joyce Acton, was betrothed at the very young age of 12 to Lucy, the Laws of Coverture required that all her financial assets, including the entire inherited estate from her family, all went to her husband. To learn more about Joyce Action click here.
As I explored Charlecote I could not imagine being married so young, and growing up to live in such a place, while knowing that my heritage and wealth would also be invested in the home and property of my husband's family completely.
Child Marriage is surprisingly STILL occurring today in many parts of the world, despite its prohibition in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. An interesting topic for discussion for its economic impact, more importantly the notion of child marriage seems clear not to be in the best interest of any child; no girl or boy, or child of The King should have to endure such a fate at so early an age.
Before going to Charlecote Park, our class studied this subject and discussed all of the MANY arguments both for and against this type of marriage. There are several policy, health, educational, well-being, quality of life reasons why this should be banned and not allowed. As much as rules can be made, enforcement is key.
Therefore we need child advocates, voices to speak up for these children who do not have a voice for themselves. There are organizations such as "girls not brides" etc. that are working on implementing legislation even within the United States borders to bar this practice from taking place. If anything, the Oxford-Regent class on Marriage Law & Economics has certainly opened my eyes and afforded me GREAT knowledge that will stick with me forever, encouraging me to continue to study more about these issues. So… this field trip to Charlecote Park was very eye opening and I am glad I had the opportunity to visit somewhere with such a fascinating history.
AND we had a lot of fun!!
Christian Leadership to change the World.