Maryland, Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Maryland, Church Records, 1668-1995 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Maryland, United States
Maryland flag.png
Flag of Maryland
US Locator Maryland.png
Location of Maryland
Record Description
Record Type Marriage Index
Collection years 1668-1995
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in This Collection?

The collection consists of an index to selected marriage records throughout Maryland for the years 1668 to 1995.

General Information About These Records

Beginning in 1640, the Maryland General Assembly required the clergy to post marriage banns and keep registers of marriages. Marriage Banns alerted the community to the upcoming marriage through weekly announcements at the local church leading up to the marriage date. The marriage register recorded that the marriage event happened.

The Maryland General Assembly transferred the responsibility for recording marriages starting in 1695 to the Protestant Episcopal Church and their parishes. Therefore, during the colonial period, parish registers became the only place marriages were recorded. By 1777, the Clerk of the County Court was required by the Maryland General Assembly to supply marriage licenses. Marriage licenses were not always obtained by all those getting married. Those excused from obtaining licenses included:

  • Quakers, due to religious practices
  • African-Americans, until 1777
  • Couples who's marriage banns were published for three Sunday's in the bride's resident county

A license created does not mean the marriage took place. Starting in 1865, the county court was required to record all vital events including marriages and send a copy to the Secretary of the Senate. The individual performing the marriage brought a copy of the marriage license back to the court to have the actual date of marriage recorded in the marriage register books. The creation of marriage records allowed the local clergy to record the religious sacraments utilized by their congregation. Later, the records were obtained by the Secretary of the State to keep track of the population and demographics in the state. These records are generally reliable but may be subject to error.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The key genealogical facts in these records include:

  • Names of principle individuals
  • Age
  • Race
  • Residence
  • Marital status
  • Occupation
  • Date of event
  • Minister’s information including residence

Earlier records have less information.

How Do I Search This Collection?

You can search the index or view the images or both. To begin your search, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of the individual
  • The location or date of the event

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.

  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

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.

What Do I Do Next?

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

  • Use the information to find other church and vital records such as birth, baptism, marriage, and death records. Also search for immigration, military, land and probate records.
  • Use the information to find additional family members in censuses.
  • Repeat this process with additional family members found, to find more generations of the family.
  • Church Records often were kept years before government records were required and are a good source for finding ancestors before 1900.

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

  • Try viewing the original record. Indexes and transcriptions may not include all the data found in the original records. Remember that there may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • If your ancestor does not have a common name, collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relatives that can be verified by records.
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality in an area search.
  • Try variant spellings of your ancestor’s name.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names. Try searching for these names as well.
  • Search the indexes and records of Maryland, United States Genealogy.
  • Search in the FamilySearch Library Catalog

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
"Maryland, Church Records, 1668-1995." Database. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2017. Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, Baltimore.
Record Citation:
When looking at a record, the citation is found below the record.

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