Mabel Jennings became pregnant in 1941 and she and her boyfriend William Hinds wanted to marry.
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.
Her father, George Jennings, was a milk vendor living in Highgate Hill. He told the court that he didn’t consider William Edward Hinds, a former fibro-plasterer apprentice, and now soldier sufficiently ‘solid’ as a prospective husband for his daughter.
Billy and Mabel were married a month later on the 30th December 1941. Mabel’s father must have had a change of heart. At the time the article was written, Billy was a member of the militia but he enlisted in the RAAF in September 1943 and was discharged in March 1946.
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.