Marriage of Dr. Blair and Sarah Harrison (June 2, 1687)

Royal Charter for the College of William and MaryOld Bruton Church

In this anecdote, recorded by Governor Francis Nicholson, Sarah Harrison Blair refuses to vow to obey her husband during their wedding ceremony, flouting the standards of her time and social class. The wedding service that the minister would have used to marry the Blairs comes from the Book of Common Prayer, first published in 1549. It was not until 1928 that “obey” was removed from the wife’s vows in a revision of the Book of Common Prayer, which was offered as an alternative to the original form.


“Memorandum, when Mr. James Blair was married to Mrs. Sarah Harrison, it was done by one Mr. Smith, when she was to say, Obey, She said No obey, upon wch He refused to proceed & the second time she said No Obey & then he refused again to proceed. The third time she said No Obey; yet the sd Mr. Smith went on with the rest of the ceremony.”

APA Citation:
Nicholson, Francis. Marriage of Dr. Blair and Sarah Harrison (June 2, 1687). (2021, October 28). In Encyclopedia Virginia.
MLA Citation:
Nicholson, Francis. "Marriage of Dr. Blair and Sarah Harrison (June 2, 1687)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (28 Oct. 2021). Web. 22 May. 2024
Last updated: 2021, October 28
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