|c1920s. The lucky horseshoe and anvil became the keepsake gift for under aged couples who had fled away to Gretna Green to become married. It was during 1754 when Lord Hardwicke addressed the Houses of Parliament, proclaiming the necessity to make 'irregular' marriages illegal and to bring marriage under the regulation of the church. The result of this was the Marriage Act of 1754 - the wedding ceremony now had to take place in Church and couples had to be 21 years of age to marry without the consent of their parents; previously the age of consent was 16. Romantic Scots did not adopt this law. In Scotland if you were 16 years of age you could marry without the consent of your parents. Even today English and Scots law differs. If you marry in England nowadays you will have to wait until you are 18 if you do not have your parents consent; in Scotland it is still 16.
Young lovers from south of the Border soon took advantage of the Scottish Law and found themselves on the old coach road between London and Scotland, Gretna Green was the first village reached once you entered Scotland, as a resulted a thriving marriage trade was set up in Gretna Green. Marriages became a lucrative business and a variety of men set themselves up as 'priests. One of the first was Joseph Paisley who was a fisherman and smuggler. He set up in one of the original marriage venues; the now World Famous Old Blacksmith's Shop. This was a working smithy and therefore a focal point of the village. Up until as late as 1940 the simple ceremony of "handfasting" was legal in Scotland. It was a contract, verbal or written between 2 consenting adults properly witnessed (two witnesses and an official representative). It was absolutely binding and accepted in civil law. Couples need only declare their intention to be husband and wife. The church considered this type of ceremony immoral and it was this type of ceremony that was outlawed in England and Wales by the 1754 Marriage Act. These ceremonies were known as 'irregular' and frowned upon by many in