Maryland, Church Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records scheduled to become available at FamilySearch.org.
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Collection Time Period

This collection dates from 1640 through 1865

Record Description

This is a collection of Marriages that were obtained from the Maryland General Assembly.

Record Content

The key genealogical facts in these marriage records include:

  • 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

How to Use the Record

Record History

Beginning in 1640, the Maryland General Assembly required the clergy to post marriage banns and keep registers of marriages. Marriage Banns alerted the coummunity 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.

Information on these marriage records 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.

By 1777, the Clerk of the County Court was required by the Maryland General Assembly to supply marriage licenses.

Marriage licenses during this time period consisted of:

  • Name of bride and groom
  • Date of license
  • Sometimes name of minister performing ceremony

Marriage licenses were not, however, always obtained by all those getting married. Those excused from obtaining licences 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.

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

Why the Record Was Created

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.

Record Reliability

These records are generally reliable but may be subject to error.

Related Websites

Related Wiki Articles

Maryland Vital Records: Marriages

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.


Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.

Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection

  • United States. Bureau of the Census. 12th census, 1900, digital images, From FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: September 29, 2006), Arizona Territory, Maricopa, Township 1, East Gila, Salt River Base and Meridian; sheet 9B, line 71.
  • Mexico, Distrito Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1886-1933, digital images, from FamilySearch Internet (www.familysearch.org: April 22, 2010), Baptism of Adolfo Fernandez Jimenez, 1 Feb. 1910, San Pedro Apóstol, Cuahimalpa, Distrito Federal, Mexico, film number 0227023.

Sources of information for This Collection

The suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections is found in the following article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.