From the early 1500s, West Africa's Gold Coast was overrun by adventurers from European nations, including Portugal, France, Sweden, Denmark, Britain and Holland, looking to capitalize on natural and human resources.
The British established a fort at Kormatine in 1651, and at Cape Castle in 1661. With vessels laden with goods and gold, piracy was a problem. On March 28 1722, a trial of pirates was held at Cape Castle and 52 pirates were condemned to death. Scarborough Maritime Heritage Centre says: "They were executed, according to their sentence, without the gates of Cape Coast Castle and within the flood marks." One of the pirates executed at Cape Castle was John Stephenson, a former Whitby chaplain.
Modern-day Ghana was formed from Britain's Gold Coast colony and the British section of Togoland, a German protectorate that eventually fell under the control of Britain and France. Ghana gained its independence in 1957.
Marriage banns, also called the banns of marriage, are a formal announcement by a Christian church of a couple's intention to wed. Primarily administered by the Church of England and Catholic churches, the banns must be read on three separate Sundays prior to the wedding, in the church where the wedding service is taking place and where both parties reside.
The Church of Ancient Ways says:
"During European feudal times, all public announcements concerning deaths, taxes, or births were called "banns."
The reading of the wedding banns, which include both partners' names and the parish where they reside, allows priests to ask their congregation whether parishioners know of any impediment to the forthcoming marriage.
In 1996, as reported by Britain's Independent newspaper:
"The Church of England's General Synod yesterday took 15 minutes to decide to try to abolish the 796-year-old tradition of reading the banns of marriage during services for the three weeks before a union can be solemnised in church."
Prior to this, if a priest failed to read the banns of marriage, he risked a jail sentence of up to 14 years. The term banns comes from a Middle English word meaning "proclamation," and its original purpose was to prevent clandestine marriages.
The Catholic church abandoned the practice in 1983.