Old Marriage License Reminds Us That 28 Was Once Spinsterhood

05/01/2014 05:00 pm ET
  • Taryn Hillin Fmr. Associate Editor, Huffington Post Weddings and Divorce and current YA author / screenwriter and journalist.

When you think of the term "spinster," the image of a bitter, old maid comes to mind. But alas, history is here to remind us that single women of any age were at one time considered "spinsters" simply because they didn't have a man.

Redditor coralfershoral posted an English marriage license from 1903 Tuesday. Pay special attention to the "condition" column.

From the looks of it, the groom was considered a "bachelor" and the bride a "spinster" -- despite her age being a mere 28.

Slightly offended for this poor young (yes, young!) woman who was clearly in her prime, we did some digging. As it turns out, the term "spinster" was used on marriage licenses in England for women of any age until 2005!

Yes, up until 2005 women in England were branded by their sad singlehood, until the Registrar General in England and Wales finally abolished the use of the term and replaced it with "single." As it happens, the move wasn't for the sake of women, it was thanks to the inclusion of same-sex civil partnerships.

The more you know.

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