Truth, Sunday 30th November 1941
LAW BARS MARRIAGE !
Girl’s Predicament: Wants To Wed Her Soldier Boy
At the age of 19, distressed, unhappy Mabel Jennings, of Highgate Hill, faces a big problem. Fervently she tells’Truth,’ she wishes to marry ‘the boy she loves with all her heart,’ 21-year-old militiaman. William Edward Hind before her babe is born. There are, however, two ominous barriers separating Mabel Jennings from her life’s desire. One is that the Law has said an emphatic ‘No’ to her application for permission to marry . The other is that her parents — a South Brisbane milk vendor and his wife — strenuously oppose the union. The boy and girl are of the same frame of mind — he has expressed willingness to marry her without delay; and has made no secret in admitting his responsibility in the matter. ‘I feel so upset,’ so unhappy, that I scarcely know what to say,’ Mabel Jennings told Truth, after a stipendiary magistrate (Mr. J. J. Leahy) had upheld her father’s objection to the marriage.
Chief objector was George Jennings, milk vendor, of Highgate Hill, who told the court that he did not consider William Edward Hinds former fibro-plasterer apprentice, and now soldier sufficiently ‘solid’ as a prospective husband for his daughter
Walter and Mabel were eventually married a year later on the 30th December 1942. At the time the article was written, Walter was a member of the militia but he enlisted in the 2nd AIF in October 1943 and was discharged in December 1945.
In colonial times, marriageable age in Australian states and territories seems to have been the same as the age of consent: 14 for men and 12 for women and only parental consent was required for marriage . In 1915, Queensland State law was altered to raise the age of consent to 17 and in 1928, the minimum age for marriage was set at 21 years. For those under 21, parental consent was required. In the absence of this consent, a magistrate could approve a marriage but usually this was only where a parent was judged to be acting unreasonably. There were may cases of forged parental consent and subsequent prosecution.
.The Australian Marriage Act of 1961 set the age at which an Australian can marry without parental or legal consent at 18 years of age, standardising the situation across all states for the first time.