British Columbia Marriage Registrations (FamilySearch Historical Records)
|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932 .
The provincial marriage registrations cover 1872-1932.
The pre-confederation (or colonial) marriage records consist of certified marriage certificates, or returns of marriages, submitted by clergy of various denominations, as well as typed certified extracts (ca. 1933) from marriage registers maintained by churches and missions. The set contains 8 volumes but v. A1 (A to J surnames, 1859-1872, British Columbia mainland) was missing at the time of filming and is not included in this set. The marriage registrations, begun in 1872, are recorded on individual, printed forms. They consist of completed statements regarding marriages submitted to district registrars and registered by the director of Vital Statistics. Note that these forms are not marriage certificates but registrations of marriages. Marriage certificates contain information from the original registration records and are only available through the British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency.
The record set for pre-confederation (or colonial) marriages covers 1859-1872.
The pre-confederation marriages occurred in the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island and were submitted to the Colonial Secretary by clergy. The two colonies were united in 1866 prior to the entry of British Columbia into the Confederation of Canada. British Columbia became a province of Canada in July 1871, and registration of vital events began in 1872. The only persons excluded from the Births, Deaths, and Marriages Act of 1872 were Chinese and Aboriginals. This was changed by an amendment in 1897, stating the registration would apply to all races. However, the Act was amended in 1899 to once again exclude First Nations from provincial registration until another amendment was passed in 1916, which authorized registration of First Nations to begin again in 1917. These restrictions did not apply to pre-confederation marriages.
Coverage is a small percentage of the population. Beginning in 1872, official government registration applied to the whole province of British Columbia except for the Chinese (until 1897) and First Nations (until 1917). Early registration records are very incomplete chiefly due to the fact that a majority of the population lived great distances from the registry offices and communication was difficult.
Pre-confederation marriages were gathered and registration of marriages begun in order to keep a written record for use by the government.
Provincial vital registrations are considered a reliable source in family history research because they contain a record of an event usually registered very near the time the event occurred. The reliability, of course, depends on the accuracy of the informant.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on FamilySearch.org Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.
- British Columbia. Vital Statistics Branch. British Columbia Marriages. Vital Statistics Agency, Victoria, British Columbia.
Key genealogical facts that may be found in the marriage records are:
- Names of bride and groom
- Ages of bride and groom
- Residences when married
- Places of birth
- Marital status
- Rank or profession
- Names of parents (father’s name only in most preconfederation records)
- Names of witnesses (the registration records include their residences)
- Date and place of marriage
- Religious denominations of bride and groom
- Name of person performing the marriage
- Whether marriage was by license or by banns
How to Use the Records
Pre-confederation marriages and marriage registrations are the best source of marriage information in British Columbia beginning in 1859.
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
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Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection
"British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932." database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org: accessed March 4, 2011), Emil Laurence Fitzgerald and Kathleen Alice Barnes, 12 July 1924; citing Vital Records, FHL microfilm 2,074,317; British Columbia Vital Statistics Branch, Victoria, British Columbia.