I'm trying to understand the last bit of this entry:

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Item. Nicolaus Burchardt, und Jungfer Elisabetha Braunschweigs
         Copuliert am 26. November. Er: M. in der Bethstund zusammen gegeben.

I can't find much via Google on what the "Bethstund" is, nor can I find a translation for it. From a couple of posts on the Archion forums, the Bethstund seems to be a prayer hour, and I'm getting a sense that this then indicates that the bride may have been pregnant? Is that correct, or just what does that mean?

  • Most likely not correct answered in the other forum. "Bethstund(e)" means literally hour (when) to pray. I think, there were eight of them, each day. For example, at six, at nine, at thirteen (1 pm) and fifteen (3 pm) and eighteen (6 pm). The last sentence would then be a (here imprecise) indicator of the time of the day. Just see the entry above, there is "frühpredigt" written, meaning the early mess. What is interesting is that usually the mentioned hours where name in Latin of its time of the day (like sexta, novena, etc) which is clearly not the case here as the generic word is used.
    – Til Hund
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 13:19
  • Further reading: here
    – Til Hund
    Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 13:22

1 Answer 1


In southern Austria I have not come across this wording yet. Might be something specific to Germany.

An article in the Main Post titled "Ein Strohkranz als Zeichen der Schande" (A straw garland as sign of disgrace) from Schernau, Kitzingen (still Bavaria but not so far away from Thuringia) suggests that both @ColeValleyGirl and @Til Hund seem to be right.

It seems that the expression "in der Bethstund" means that the bride either was pregnant, there already was a child or either bride or groom had attracted attention wrt fornication in the past. While there were several hours for prayer (I would have spontaneously attributed the "Bethstund" to 6 p.m.) in that case it seems to be the one at midday.

In detail the article states:

[...] Zum Beispiel in Schernau anno 1590. Da brachte ein Schernauer Paar ein vierteljähriges Kind mit zur Trauung. Die Zeremonie verlief dann "ohne Kranz, Haarband und Saitenspiel". [...] In der Praxis bedeutete dies, dass das Paar ohne "Haarband und Ehrenkranz", auch "Jungfernkranz" genannt, woraus sich allmählich der Schleier entwickelte, zur Trauung schritt. Als Zeichen der "Schande" trug ein Büttel ein Strohkränzchen voraus. Gesang und Orgelspiel waren untersagt wie auch fröhliches Hochzeitstreiben. Der Gottesdienst fand in aller Schlichtheit und Heimlichkeit entweder nach der Frühmesse oder der mittäglichen Betstunde statt. In vielen Fällen wurden [sic] die Zeremonie hinter einem Vorhang vollzogen.

[...] For example, in Schernau in 1590, a Schernau couple brought a quarter-year-old child to the wedding ceremony. The ceremony then was conducted "without garland, hair ribbon and strings". [...] In practice, this meant that the couple went to the wedding without "hair ribbon and garland of honor", also called "maiden garland", from which the veil gradually developed. As a sign of "disgrace", a bailiff carried a garland of straw in front of the couple. Singing and organ music were forbidden, as was merry wedding bustle. The service took place in all simplicity and secrecy either after the early mass or the midday prayer hour. In many cases the ceremony was performed behind a curtain.

  • 1
    Hmmm, interesting. That seems along the lines what what was hinted at at Archion. I'll give a look to see if the bride had any baptisms prior to the wedding (other than her own, that is).
    – BrianFreud
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 6:06
  • Or shortly after the marriage (within less than 9 month)
    – Til Hund
    Commented Mar 8, 2021 at 12:31
  • BrianFreud, if you have an update to this question, kindly let us know. :)
    – Til Hund
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 11:12
  • I've gone through the records a few times; don't think I could have missed any at this point. The marriage was in 1667. No records found for any baptism or burial for any children of Elisabetha prior to marriage in 1667. Children were ID'd only by father's name; first child of Nicolaus is in 1674, then 1680. Record of Elisabetha's death in 1684 (no age at death, or cause of death, unfortunately for genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/18105 ).
    – BrianFreud
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 9:06
  • He remarries in 1688, and then has children in 1688 and 1692. Makes me think that perhaps Elisabetha had some issues carrying a child to term; perhaps some unrecorded miscarriages or stillbirths.
    – BrianFreud
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 9:20

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