Maryland Vital Records: Marriages

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United States  Gotoarrow.png  Maryland  Gotoarrow.png  Vital Records Gotoarrow.png Marriages

Maryland Marriage Records

Quick Reference

Years Where Can I Get it? Restrictions? Indexes/documents online? Notes
Colonial Marriages (1640-1776) Maryland State Archives; Family History Library  No Transcriptions: Kent, Talbot, & Somerset Counties, various years 

Transcriptions: Kent County, 1694-1707
Transcriptions: Kent County, 1676-1698

1777-1864 Maryland State Archives No No  
1865-1885 Maryland State Archives No No  
1886-1913 Maryland State Archives No No  
1914-1997 Maryland State Archives No No  
1998 to Present Circuit Courts; Division of Vital Records Division of Vital Records only gives marriage records to relatives; use Circuit Courts instead. No  


Colonial Marriages, 1640-1776

Beginning in 1640 the Maryland General Assembly required the clergy to post marriage banns and keep registers of marriages. Marriage Banns informed the community that the couple intended to marry and it was announced every week for several weeks at the local church before the marriage took place. The marriage register recorded that the marriage event happened.

Information on these marriages included:
  • Name of bride and groom
  • Date of marriage (marriage register)
  • Sometimes lists witnesses

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. A list of all the church records held at the Maryland State Archives can be found at this link.

Marriage Licenses, 1777-1864

The Clerk of the County Court was required by the Maryland General Assembly to supply marriage licenses by 1777.  Marriage Licenses were not always obtained by all those getting married. Licenses were not required of African-Americans until 1777. Nor were Quakers required to obtain them as according to their religious practices. Also, if the couple published marriage banns for three Sundays in the bride’s county of residence, they could forego the marriage license. A license created does not mean the marriage took place.

Marriage licenses during this time period consisted of:
  • Name of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Sometimes name of minister performing ceremony

Marriage Records, 1865-1885

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.

Marriage records beginning in 1865 contained:
  • Names of bride and groom
  • Age of bride and groom
  • Race of bride and groom
  • Residence of bride and groom
  • Marital status of bride and groom (single or widowed)
  • Occupation of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Date of marriage
  • Minister’s information including residence

Marriage License Applications, 1886-1913

Another law passed in 1886 required that in addition to the marriage license a signed application must be submitted by the marriage couple. The law also required that the groom must be twenty one and the bride must be sixteen to marry without permission of a parent or guardian. Later laws changed the bride's age to eighteen years old.

The marriage license application contained the following information:
  • Names of bride and groom
  • Age of bride and groom
  • Residence of bride and groom
  • Race of bride and groom
  • Occupation of bride and groom
  • Marital status couple (single or widowed)
  • Signature of each applicant
  • Date of application, license and marriage
  • Parent or guardian’s consent if underage

Marriage Certificates, 1914 to the Present

The Bureau of Vital Statistics (under the State Department of Health) required counties and Baltimore City to report their marriages to them starting in 1914.

These marriage certificates gives information about each of the couple including their:
  • Name
  • Age
  • Birthplace
  • Residence
  • Race
  • Occupation
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Date of marriage license
  • Minister officiating
  • Parents or guardian’s consent if underage
  • Sometimes indicated if prior marriage for bride or groom

Locating Records

Maryland State Archives

Marriage records and indexes located at the Maryland State Archives can be viewed onsite or a research request can be made.  To view fees and how to request information go to the Maryland State Archives website, Placing Research & Copy Orders.

Below is a list of the necessary information to view or request copies of microfilm and original records that are available at the Maryland State Archives.  The list includes marriage indexes and marriage records available seperated by time period:

Colonial Marriages, 1640-1766

INDEXES, Maryland Marriages
Various dates, Bible and Tombstone records (refers only to printed or manuscript records) MSA S1406
1686-1958, Church Records, Marriage Index (15 churches) MSA S1396
1649-1720, 1774-1886, Index to Marriage Licenses and Records (incomplete) MSA S1397
INDEXES, Implied Maryland Marriages - These indexes only go to records that imply marriage and do not give an exact date of marriage.  These are useful when no record of the marriage has survived.
Various dates, Maryland Marriage References MSA S1527
Various dates, Hodges Index, Marriage References MSA S1396
Various dates, Magruders Index, Marriage References MSA S1487
Marriage Records
1654-1706, Charles County Court (births, marriages, deaths) MSA C653, Microfilm
1675-1707, Kent County Court (proceedings) MSA C1091
1675-1707, Kent County Court (land records) MSA C1068, Microfilm
1649-1720, Somerset County Court (births, marriages, deaths) MSA C1739Microfilm
1657-1691, Talbot County Court (births, marriages, deaths) MSA C1840, Microfilm

Marriage Records, 1777-1804

1777-1804, These marriages are indexed up to 1804 in Maryland Marriages by Robert Barnes (available at the Maryland State Archives and Family History Library (FHL). For references for the FHL, see Locating Records at the FHL below
Marriage Records
1777-1804, Marriage Returns, Maryland State Papers Scharf Collection MSA S1005
1777-1804 Marriage licenses by County Circuit Court (lists MSA numbers)

Marriage Records, 1865-1885

1865-1885 Marriage Records by County Circuit Court (lists MSA numbers) 

Marriage Records, 1886-1914

1886-1914 Marriage License Applications by County Circuit Court (lists MSA numbers)

Marriage Certificiates, 1914-1997

Counties (not including Baltimore City)
1914-1930 Marriage Certificates, Soundex by Bride MSA SM184
1914-1930 Marriage Certificates, Soundex by Groom (incomplete) MSA S1498, microfilm
1931-1940 Marriage Certificates, Soundex by Groom MSA T318
Baltimore City
Marriage Records
1914-1940 Marriage Certificates MSA T317
No index is available from 1914-1940 at the Maryland State Archives

Marriage Certificates, 1941-1987

Baltimore City & Counties Indexes
1951-1968 Index to Marriages MSA SM224
1968-1972 Index to Marriages MSA SM226 
1951-1968 MSA SM223 
1968-1972 MSA SM225
Marriage Records
1941-1987 Marriage Certificates MSA T315 
There is no index available from 1941-1951 at the Maryland State Archives. However, they are arranged in order by year and month of marriage, jurisdiction (county or city) and then alpha order by groom’s name.

Marriage Certificates, 1973-1997

1951-1989 Marriage Index – a paper copy of an index to marriages for Maryland is available at the Maryland State Archives. However, the copy is difficult to read and some entries are indecipherable.
Marriage Records
1973-1997 Maryland Marriage Certificates MSA T315 

The Maryland State Archives is continually obtaining new records. Please check the recently transferred website to see recent acquisitions.

Circuit Courts

1997 to the present

For marriage records after 1997, the records must be obtained from the Circuit Court where the marriage took place. To contact a circuit court, use the Maryland State Archives page, List of Maryland Circuit Courts to obtain address and phone number of the appropriate court.

Gretna Green marriage places

Gretna Greens. When an eloping Maryland couple's marriage is not in their home county, search for it in alternate places like:[1]

Family History Library

There are some Maryland Colonial marriage records available at the Family History Library. The following are links to topics in the [Introduction_to_the_Family_History_Library_Catalog|FamilySearch Catalog]] that list sources that can be viewed at the Family History Library.  Each source has either a book call number or microfilm number assigned to it. Microfilm records and books can be viewed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. and some Family History Centers. Below are links that contain marriage record sources for different counties in Maryland:

Colonial Marriages, 1640-1876

Some early marriage records are indexed in three books by Robert Barnes called, Maryland Marriages. These books are available at the Family History Library.  The following are links to the book call number that is necessary to view the books in person at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. (These books may also be available at University or Public libraries in your area.)

Another compilation of early Maryland marriages (1600s and 1700s) can be found in Annie W. B. Bell’s Maryland Marriage Records. This source is available in book form as well as microfilm.

Marriage Records

The Family History Library contains microfilm copies of marriages recorded by the Circuit Court from 1777 up to 1886 for about half of the Maryland counties. They can be found on the county jurisdiction under "Vital Records" using the "place search" in the FamilySearch Catalog

The Family History Library also has many book compilations of marriages. These marriages are taken from original records and cover a variety of dates depending on the county. Reference information (book, microfilm, or microfiche number) to view these records can be found in the FamilySearch Catalog under the county the marriage took place.

For instructions on how to do a county "place search" in the Family History Library Catalog, click here.

Division of Vital Records Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

From 1990 to the present, marriage records can be ordered from the Division of Vital Records.  However, you must be the bride, groom or representative of one of the couple to obtain a marriage certificate.  Genealogists should obtain copies of marriage records from the circuit court the marriage took place or contact the Maryland State Archives.

Click here to download a marriage certificate application from the Division of Vital Records.

To mail in a request:
Division of Vital Records
P.O. box 68760
Baltimore, MD 21215-0036
To call for more information, (410) 764-3038 or (800) 832-3277
To order for same day service with additional fee, go to 


Information provided here was taken from the following sources:

Eichholz, Alice. Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, c2004).

Evans, Barbara Jean. A to Zax: A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists & Historians. (Alexandria, Virginia : Hearthside Press, c1995).

The Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America. (Logan, Utah : Everton Publishers, c2006).

Maryland: Research Outline. (Salt Lake City, Utah : Corp. of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of L.D.S., c1988).

Maryland State Archives

Division of Vital Statistics Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

  1. Arlene H. Eakle, "Have you searched and searched for a marriage without finding it?" in Genealogy Blog at (accessed 8 January 2011).