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