Ever pay attention to the dates a couple married followed by the birth date of their first born child? It's not always possible because we sometimes don't have exact dates for either the wedding or the child's birth, and I think because of that, I don't always pay close attention to them when I do have them. But at one point, I made an effort to go through my tree and identify all known "shotgun weddings" - that is, weddings that took place less than 9 months before the birth of their first child. *Nudge, nudge, wink, wink*
|Above: Oh dear, there's no hiding this! Anna gave birth less than 2 months after her wedding, so she was likely about 7 months pregnant when they married and probably very visibly pregnant.|
Granted, some of them could just be premature births. But in other cases, the length of time between the wedding and the birth is too short to have just been premature, especially in a time before modern medicine could help preemies survive, such as the example above.
Thanks to Ancestry.com's custom tagging option, I now have all potential shotgun weddings labelled as such, and it's kind of amusing how many there were. 15 couples in my ancestry have been identified so far as having a child less than 9 months after their wedding. And again, that's not including the couples who I haven't yet found a marriage record for, and/or don't have an exact date for the first child's birth. There could be even more among those if I could just find the right dates. It's also not including those who simply had children out of wedlock. That's a whole different tag, and there's at least 6 cases of those.
|In this case, my ancestors Agostino and Rosaria had a child out of wedlock, then waited more than three years before getting married, which was then a shotgun wedding! Rosaria was about 3 months pregnant when they married.|
It kind of makes you wonder how many of our ancestors actually waited until they were married to have sex, like they were "supposed to", or like the stereotype that is always taught to us about sex and marriage in history. Because there must have been even more ancestors who lost their virginity before getting married, but it didn't result in a pregnancy, so there was no evidence of it. In one case, I have love letters between ancestors which seem to suggest they may have been intimate before marriage, even though they did not have a shotgun wedding.
When you consider all those factors, it really seems plausible that just as many people didn't wait until marriage to have sex as those who did. Maybe even more.