Green’s Dictionary of Slang

jump (over) the broomstick v.

also jump (over) the broom, ...hurdle, hop over a broom
[the uses are all fig. in 20C+ although they were once actual actions]

to enter into a common-law marriage; no civil or religious ceremony is undertaken, but the couple ‘make their vows’ by jumping over a broomstick or any of the other obstacles/implements.

[UK]J. Poole Hamlet Travestie II iii: Jump o’er a broomstick, but don’t make a farce on The marriage ceremonies of the parson.
Westnmorland Gaz. 16 Jan. 3/4: A jump over the broomstick [...] will be as good and legal as a Scotch wedding.
[UK] ‘A Blow-Out Among The Blowen’ in Secret Songster 14: I’ll sing you an out-and-out chaunt, if you like, / About blear-eyed Molly, and goggled-eyed Mike; / Who being dead nuts on this rummy old whore, / He jump’d over the broomstick vith her to be sure.
[UK]‘Kate Maloney’ in New Cockalorum Songster in Spedding & Watt (eds) Bawdy Songbooks (2011) II 30: That very night we jumped the broom, / And now she’s Kate Mahoney.
[UK]R. Barham ‘Lay of St. Romwold’ in Ingoldsby Legends (1842) 227: While young ladies had fain / Single women remain, / And unwedded maids to the last ‘crack of doom’ stick, / Ere marry, by taking a jump o’er a broomstick.
[Ire] ‘Jonathan Brown’ Dublin Comic Songster 228: And Sal with a cobbler hopped over a broom.
[UK]Examiner (London) 2 Apr. n.p.: Almost any proceeding amounted to a contract of marriage. The parties might [...] hop over a broomstick.
[Aus]Bell’s Life in Sydney 3 Mar. 2/4: The nuptial knot had not been, tied according to the rites of mother church, he and his paramour having preferred the more humble and expeditious method of jumping across a broomstick.
[UK]Dickens Great Expectations (1992) 372: This woman in Gerrard St. here, had been married very young, over the broomstick (as we say) to a tramping man.
[UK] ‘Timothy Brown the Tailor’ in Rakish Rhymer (1917) 40: ‘Then jump the broom with me, my dear’ — / Says Timothy Brown, the tailor.
[US]Dodge City Times 15 Sept. in Miller & Snell Why the West was Wild 278: They did not jump over the broomstick.
[UK]L.M.Thornton ‘David Dove that Fell in Love’ [ballad] The girl that I had hoped to hear / Pronounce my happy doom, sir, / Had bolted with a carpenter, / In fact hopped o’er the broom, sir.
[UK]Hants Teleg. 25 Aug. 11/5: The Duke: Here is a gypsy encampment. Let us jump over a broomstick. The Duchess: That’s the last. I absolutely decline to get married again.
[UK]J.D. Brayshaw Slum Silhouettes 141: None o’ yer jumpin’ over the broomstick – Sal ain’t the sort o’ gal for that – but a real, reg’lar slap up wedding.
[Aus]Truth (Melbourne) 31 Jan. 5/6: Single blokes cops single women, / Sometimes for twelve months of ‘love’, / Broomstick brides hitched for a year, and / Which in court they do dissolve.
[UK]Derby Dly Teleg. 10 Dec. 5/1: An aged gypsy-woman [...] told the committee that she and her husband to be married jumped over the broomstick.
[US]Z.N. Hurston Jonah’s Gourd Vine (1995) 71: Dis de fust one uh mah chillun tuh jump over de broomstick and Ah means tuh tie de knot may own self.
[US] ‘Whitman College Sl.’ in AS XVIII:2 Apr. 154/1: jump the hurdle. To get married.
[US]Botkin Lay My Burden Down 86: When they got married on the places, mostly they just jumped over a broom and that made ’em married.
[US]Randolph & Wilson Down in the Holler 257: jump the broomstick: phr. To marry. Sometimes perhaps it means to propose marriage.
[Ire]Share Slanguage.
[UK]A. O’Hagan Our Fathers 198: I gather she and what’s-his-name were living there in sin. It was a good thing they jumped the broom last year. Living it up at their age.