Friday, 15 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016: M is for Marriage Banns, Licences, and Allegations
These can be a little confusing, so I thought I would separate them out here.

1.  Banns
These took the form of a proclamation in the parish churches of the groom and the bride who were going to be married.  This was in order that anybody could object.  They were read out (in church) on three successive Sundays, and recorded in a special register.  When Oliver Cromwell was in power, and so marriages became civil contracts, the banns could be read out either in church or in the marketplace.  Unfortunately, only a few banns registers survive.

2. Allegations
An allegation was the oath that had to be sworn in order to acquire a licence to wed (see #3)

3. Licence
Sometimes, on a wedding certificate, you will see that your ancestors married 'by licence'.  There were several reasons for this:
  • some felt it was undignified for everyone to know their private business; 
  • Dissenters disliked (and in some cases, refused) to have their banns read out in a church in which they actively did not believe; 
  • perhaps the bride was already pregnant, and the couple wanted to marry straight away; 
  • maybe they were telling fibs about their ages (an older woman marrying a younger man!); 
  • perhaps they did not have parental consent.

© 2016 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved


  1. A concise explanation, thanks.

    1. Actually, I needed to sort it out for myself, too! LOL

  2. My ancestors from Armagh eloped and sailed to Canada. Not much hope of finding anything, I don't even know where they got married.

    1. Keep looking! You will be so excited when you find out!

  3. I'm trying to play catch up....this was some good info to take in

    1. You never know when it might come in useful.



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