England, Durham Diocese, Marriage Bonds and Allegations (FamilySearch Historical Records)
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England, Durham Diocese, Marriage Bonds & Allegations, 1692-1900
|This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.|
|Flag of England|
|Location of Durham, England|
|Record Type||Marriage Bonds and Allegations|
What is in the Collection?
This collection consists of marriage bonds and allegations for Durham and Northumberland for the years 1692 to 1900.
Allegations are handwritten documents. Later allegations are handwritten on preprinted pages. Most of the originals have now been compiled and bound in volumes. The majority of the original marriage allegations have been preserved. While most are in the custody of the diocese, others may be found in the records of the Vicar General and the faculty office of the Archbishop of Canterbury; most are now in the county records office.
A marriage allegation is a sworn statement filed often by the marriage participants in connection with their license application. It is a statement that there is no known reason that the marriage should not take place. Marriage licenses could be granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, bishops, and archdeacons or their surrogates within their respective jurisdictions. The original allegations and bonds were held by the various church officials. Most were later transferred to county record offices. Many of the records are now published by the respective dioceses. The majority of English people would have been married by banns, not by license, and so would not have a marriage allegation. However, from the early 16th century, those able to pay the fee would avoid the reading of public banns and obtain a license, since many families did not like the thought of public objection to their intended marriage. Dissenters (other faiths) were obliged to marry in the Church of England but obtained a license to marry.
Marriage records may contain the following information:
- Names of the marriage partners
- Ages of the marriage partners
- Occupations of the marriage partners
- Marital statuses (whether single or widowed)
- Parish of residence
- Sometimes where the marriage was to take place
- Sometimes a parent’s name or signature
- If either of the marriage partners was a minor, the name of the parent or guardian who was consenting to the marriage
How Do I Search the Collection?
For people whose ancestors married by license, the allegation could be a valuable research tool. The allegation can help define family relationships and residences as well as personal information such as age and occupation. You can use the residence information for the bride and groom to look for their baptisms and to identify the children of this couple. The ages can help you calculate an approximate year of birth.
To begin your search, it would be helpful if you knew the name of the bride or groom. If no index is available, it would be helpful if you knew the jurisdiction where the allegation was filed and an approximate marriage date.
To search the collection by name: Fill in the requested information in the boxes on the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the individuals 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 look at the information on several individuals comparing the information about them to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:
- There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
- You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
- Your ancestor may have used different names, or variations of their name, throughout their life.
- If your ancestor used an alias or a nickname, be sure to check for those alternate names.
- Even though these indexes are very accurate they may still contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
To browse by image:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "Year"
⇒Select the appropriate "Durham University Reference Number" which will take you to the images.
Search the collection by image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination.
What if I Can't Find Who I'm Looking For?
The following suggestions can help you find marriage allegation records for your ancestors:
- Make sure you are searching in the right jurisdiction.
- Check for indexes that will make your search easier.
- When searching through the records, look for others with the same surname; they may be related.
- Look for allegations of parents and earlier generations in the same jurisdiction.
- Look for allegations of children in the same jurisdiction.
General Information About These Records
The Durham collection represent allegations or applications made to the diocesan chancellor or surrogate application may have been made to the Archbishop's of York or Canterbury as the two provinces within the Church of England. In the case of Canterbury allegations, the licence issued was valid throughout England.
Two people made the allegation (application) to designated officers of either the diocesan chancellor or surrogate or the Archbishop’s of York or Canterbury. Bridegrooms may make an allegation or have two friends do so on their behalf. Each allegation requires two bondsmen who would stand as surety in case any impediment to marriage is later discovered. Underage spouses required parental consent as part of the allegation.
The licenses were issued to the bridegroom and have generally not survived. The allegations and bonds are found at diocesan or record office and here, forming this collection.
Both the Canterbury Vicar-General's and Faculty Office records are held at the Lambeth Palace library, the residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and can be seen by appointment with the librarian. Printed indexes of these were published by the Harleian Society. The Society of Genealogists also owns a collection of abstracts and indexes and has published a guide to them.
These records were created as part of the ecclesiastical process of ensuring that no lawful impediment to marriage existed, that persons of other faiths required to marry in the Church of England had a system to do so, and that an alternative was offered to those who did wish public banns to be read. The license was normally obtained from the chancellor or surrogate of the diocese in which one of the parties lived and in which the marriage was intended to be celebrated, but application could be made to the Vicar-General of the Archbishop of the province. If the parties lived in different diocese, they had to apply to the Vicar-General. If they lived in different provinces they had to apply to the Master of Faculties of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The record was used by the marriage official as evidence that the bride and groom were eligible to be married.
The information included in a marriage allegation is sometimes unreliable; fictitious names are not unknown! Generally if the bridegroom and a friend made the allegation the information is reliable; in the case of application by two "friends" a degree of caution may be indicated. It was often the case that families of nobility would have others handle the license application on their behalf. The use of fictitious bondsmen names is encountered but usually the parties to the marriage are accurate unless secretive marriage was being sought for pregnancy or another reason.
The Allegation or application is only an intention to marry and just as a banns book entry may not result in an actual marriage, the license does not imply an actual marriage.
Known Issues with This Collection
For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.
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Citing this Collection
Citing your sources makes it easy for others to find and evaluate the records you used. When you copy information from a record, list where you found that information. Here you can find citations already created for the entire collection and for each individual record or image.
- "England, Durham Diocese, Marriage Bonds & Allegations, 1692-1900." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. Citing Church of England. Durham University Library, Palace Green.