England, Norfolk Marriage Bonds (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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England Norfolk Marriage Bonds, 1557-1915
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Norfolk,  England
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Location of Norfolk, England
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Record Description
Record Type Marriage Bonds
Collection years 1557-1915
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites
Archive
Norfolk Record Office


What is in This Collection?

This collection contains marriage bonds covering the period 1557-1915. They are primarily from the county of Norfolk, but with a few records from certain parishes in the counties of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Marriage allegations and bonds were sworn statements filed by a bride and groom as part of a marriage license application. The allegation stated that there was no known reason that the marriage should not take place; bonds contractually obligated the signers to pay a sum of money if the allegation was incorrect. Until 1733, marriage bonds were written partly in Latin but the wording was standardized and is easier to decipher in the printed forms that were in use by the 1690s.

Due to both tradition and a fee associated with obtaining a marriage license, most English couples were married by banns, not by license, and so would have neither a marriage allegation nor its related bond. However, families able to pay the fee would often avoid the reading of public banns and obtain a license, since many families did not like the thought of public objection to the intended marriage. Before the 1830s, nonconformists were required to marry officially in the Church of England, so most applied for licenses, rather than having their marriage announced by banns. Other possible reasons for obtaining marriage licenses are explained in Marriage Allegations, Bonds and Licences in England and Wales.

Although most bonds and allegations have survived, some are in poor condition and difficult to read, especially when the microfilmed images are badly focused. Licenses themselves were not normally retained for long after being handed to the officiating minister, but a few survive with parish records and a series from the Norwich Consistory Court (1903-1988) is described in Norfolk Record Office Information Leaflet 48: Marriage License Bonds.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for England Norfolk Marriage Bonds, 1557-1915.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

Marriage Records contain:

  • Date of document
  • Name of the future groom
  • Age and marital status of the future groom
  • Residence of the future groom
  • Name of the future bride
  • Age and marital status of the future bride
  • Residence of the future bride
  • May include names of parents or guardians of minors

Collection Content

This collection contains bonds and other documents for those married by license in the counties of Norfolk and . The marriage license allegations and bonds in this collection are in broadly chronological order under four ecclesiastical courts:

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the bride or groom
  • The approximate date of marriage

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select County
  2. Select Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction
  3. Select Year to view the images.

Some of the records in this collection may be written in an old script that can be challenging to read. Refer to BYU’s Script Tutorial for assistance with reading the records.

How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Save or print a copy of the image if possible
  • Use the estimated age to calculate an approximate year of birth and search for a christening or birth record
  • If in the appropriate period, use the information to find the individual's birth, marriage or death in civil records
  • Continue to search the index for people with the same surname to identify children, siblings, parents, and other relatives
  • If a parent or guardian's name is listed, look for the family in census records for 1841 and later
  • If there is a second bondsman named John Doe with no stated occupation or address, he is most likely fictitious and should not be entered into genealogical records

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • Most brides and grooms were 21 years "and upwards" so their calculated birth dates are not necessarily accurate
  • Check for variants of given names, surnames, and place names
  • Transcription errors could occur in any handwritten record
  • It was not uncommon for an individual be listed under a nickname or an abbreviation of their name, especially in church records
  • Vary the search terms. For example, search by either the given name or surname to return broader list of possible candidates which can then be examined for matches
  • Search the records of nearby parishes. For this particular collection, this step may require finding records in the bordering English counties of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. LIncolnshire to the northwest is also a possibility, but is a less likely one
  • Note that marriages usually took place in the parish where the bride resided
  • Look at the actual image of the record to verify the information found in the online description, if possible
  • If browsing through images, note that the pages in this collection are not necessarily arranged in date order
  • Remember that the existence of a marriage bond or allegation does not prove that a marriage actually took place
  • Consult the England Record Finder to find other records

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation

"England, Norfolk Marriage Bonds, 1557-1915." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing Church of England. Record Office, Central Library, Norwich.

Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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